Why You Need Breast Cancer Surgery

To ensure the best chance for successful treatment, it is important to remove all the cancerous tissue from the body. The first step is usually some type of breast cancer surgery to remove the tumor from the breast area. Other treatments, such as radiation therapy or chemotherapy cannot replace surgery, but they do play a very important role later in the treatment process.


Dr. Julie Reiland performing breast cancer surgery

Over the past 50 years the trend in breast cancer surgery has been to achieve the best cancer control possible, while removing less and less normal breast tissue. A case of “less is more”, or “less is enough”.

A new field is also emerging called oncoplastic surgery. The goal of oncoplastic surgery techniques is not to just remove all of the cancer, but also to give the woman the most pleasing cosmetic results possible.

Breast Surgery Options

Today, there are two surgical options: One is to remove just the tumor, with a safety margin of healthy breast tissue around it, conserving most of the breast. This is called wide local excision, partial mastectomy, or lumpectomy. This breast-conserving surgery is usually followed by radiation therapy—treatment of the breast area with high energy X-rays to destroy any cancer cells that may have remained behind. The combined approach is called breast conserving therapy, or BCT.


The other option is to remove the entire breast in a procedure called mastectomy. In the past, women dreaded this operation. But the mastectomy techniques used today are quite different from the ones used years ago, and can be combined with immediate cosmetic reconstruction of the breast.

“Breast cancer is not a wild fire… There is time.”