Nearly one-third of breast cancer patients require a mastectomy. A mastectomy comes in various types, with each differing in the breast removal amount. A woman’s physician will discuss with her the benefits and risks of each option.

The three most common types of mastectomy are:

  • Partial (or segmental) mastectomy
  • Simple mastectomy
  • Modified radical mastectomy

Partial Mastectomy

Like a lumpectomy, a partial mastectomy is considered a conservative surgical approach to treating breast cancer. During the procedure, the surgeon removes the cancer and a portion of breast tissue surrounding the cancer. More breast tissue is removed in a partial mastectomy than in a lumpectomy, but the amount is less than that removed in a simple or modified radical mastectomy. Lymph nodes under the arm may also be removed to determine if the cancer has spread to other parts of the body.

Simple Mastectomy

A simple (or total) mastectomy includes the removal of the entire breast, including the cancer cells, breast tissue, nipple and overlying skin.

Modified Radical Mastectomy


A modified radical mastectomy involves the removal of the entire breast and lymph nodes under the arm to determine if the cancer has spread to other parts of the body.

Simple and modified radical mastectomies are considered non-breast-conserving procedures and may be recommended if:

  • The cancer is too big for a lumpectomy or partial mastectomy
  • There is more than one type of cancer in the breast

Woman’s cancer physicians and cosmetic surgeons work together to reconstruct the patient’s breast should she choose.

What to Expect

Most women who undergo simple or modified radical mastectomies spend at least one night in the hospital following the procedure. The hospital stay is extended if she elects to have breast reconstructive surgery at the same time as her mastectomy.

Physicians will work to ensure that a patient is back to her normal routine as fast as possible.

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