Know All About Mastectomy

CONTENTS

How To Treat Breast Cancer?

Cancer can sometimes be large and can spread to multiple locations in the breast. Patient might wish to avoid radiation or and want cosmetic and reconstructive options. 
Doctors recommend surgery for women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer in the early stages and when lumpectomy has failed.
If there is high chance that a person can contract the disease in the future there are surgical options that can lower their chances. 


A Mastectomy can help you reduce your signs of getting breast cancer.

What Is Mastectomy?

Mastectomy is a surgery performed to remove the entire breast tissues in order to treat breast cancer or as a preventive measure against it. A patient usually has to choose between lymphectomy and mastectomy. Lymphectomy is where only the cancerous part of the breast is removed, conserving the rest of the breast.

Due to the advancements in surgical techniques, the breast skin in Mastectomy can now be conserved so that reconstructive breast surgery may be performed to regain natural looking breast appearance. Breast reconstruction may be done at the same time as Mastectomy or after a certain period of time through a breast reconstruction surgery. 


Who Are The Ideal Candidates For Mastectomy?

Mastectomy is of different types and the candidacy varies from one procedure to another.
For example, total mastectomy can be done only when the cancer hasn’t spread to lymph nodes or a more invasive approach has to be adopted. 
In general, it can be opted for, by - 

Women who have early stage breast cancer

Individuals with locally advanced breast cancer

People with inflammatory breast cancer

Women who have a family history of cancer and are at a high risk of developing the disease.


What Are The Different Types Of Mastectomy Procedures?

There are different kinds of mastectomies, depending on the portion and size of the breast that is to be removed.

Total Mastectomy - Also known as simple mastectomy, in this procedure the entire breast, including the nipple and the areola is removed. 

Modified Radical Mastectomy - The entire breast along with some parts of the lymph nodes in the arms and the lining of the chest wall is removed. This is because breast cancer can spread to these lymph nodes, thereby entering the lymphatic system and spreading to other parts of the body. 

Radical Mastectomy - In this procedure, the entire breast, along with the nipple and the areola is removed. Some lymph nodes under the arm and the muscles on the chest wall are also removed. This is only done when the cancer has spread to the chest muscles as well.

Skin Sparing mastectomy - In this type, breast tissue, the nipple and the areola are removed but most of the skin is preserved. It is not suitable when the tumors are large or near the skin surface. 

Nipple Sparing Mastectomy - This method attempts to preserves the skin, nipple and areola. The tissue under the skin, including the milk ducts leading up to the nipple is removed but the skin of the nipple and the areola are saved. They are then examined and if no cancer cells are found on the tissue near them, they are preserved. 


What To Do Before A Mastectomy Procedure?

  • You will have to first choose your surgeon, discuss with him and decide upon the type of procedure you want to undergo. This is the time to ask questions about the results, complications and recovery.

  • Patients are generally given a consent form to sign. You should read it carefully before signing.

  • You are required to give your entire medical history to your surgeon. Apart from this, he may conduct a number of physical examinations and blood tests to ensure that you are indeed an ideal candidate for the procedure.

  • Notify your doctor about your allergies to certain specific medication and reactions to anesthesia, both local and general (if any). 

  • Inform your doctor about the current course of medication that you are on. This includes prescribed pills, herbal supplements and other supplements.

  • If you have had any history of bleeding disorders, keep your doctor informed about them. Stop consuming blood thinning medication like aspirin for two weeks prior to the surgery as it can prolong the recovery time.

  • Quit smoking at least a month before the procedure as it can interfere with the healing process.


 What Is The Post-operative Care For A Mastectomy Procedure?

  • Once the mastectomy is performed, patients are generally made to stay in the hospital for 1 to 3 days depending upon the extent of invasiveness of the procedure. 

  • You will be wrapped in bandages and dressings over the treated area. These have to be kept clean and dry and have to be changed frequently after showers.

  • Drainage tubes will be connected to the body to get rid of the excess fluid. They will be removed two weeks after the surgery.

  • You may feel pain and soreness in the treated area. This can be solved by after care medication as prescribed by your surgeon. Avoid consuming aspirin and other blood thinning medication.

  • Do inform your surgeon at once if there is redness, swelling or bleeding from the incision sites. Refer to him if you have fever or chills during the stages of healing after the procedure.

  • Refrain from smoking as this can interfere with your recovery and increase the risk of complications.

  • Do not indulge in any strenuous activities and exercises which involve the arm without consulting with your surgeon. Normal activities can be resumed within a few weeks after the procedure.  


What Is The Diet For Mastectomy?

Nausea is common after any surgery. To ease nausea, eat small portions of food throughout the day instead of large timely meals.

Drink plenty of liquids like yogurt and protein shakes as a substitute for solid foods.

You can also drink simple soups with vegetable, chicken and broth.

During recovery, your body will need more nutrients than it normally does.

Ensure that you consume plenty of proteins in the form of meat, cheese and nuts.

Soy contains phytoestrogens that are similar to estrogen. You can consume it in the form of tofu and soy milk. ediortext Eat a well balanced diet, rich in antioxidants. These can be found in fresh fruits and vegetables.


What Are The Realistic Expectations From A Mastectomy Procedure?

  • The procedure is regarded to be safe and relatively simple. The patient, however, needs to understand that getting a mastectomy aims to reduce breast tissue in the threat or presence of breast cancer. There are chances of the presence of cancerous cell even after the removal. 

  • In a partial mastectomy there is a chance that the cancer can resurface.

  • In a full mastectomy, there is a risk of losing excessive healthy tissues of the body. 

  • Recovery time after a mastectomy usually lasts between 3-6 weeks.


What Are The Pros And Cons Of Mastectomy?

  • Pros

  • Cons

  • The benefits of mastecomy are substantial. With the success of either types of mastectomy, you are free from cancerous tissues in your body that could have possibly spread to other parts of the body as well. 

  • The procedure does not have much complications, and is safe. It is considered that mastectomy can be easily performed and doesn’t require excessive expertise on the part of the surgeon. 

  • Preventive mastectomy can help you eliminate the risk of breast cancer as well as prevent undergoing chemotherapy,and radiotherapy. In addition, you will save yourself from spending thousands of dollars, years of your time, as well as a lot of emotional and mental trauma by taking such a measure. 

  • The chances of a continued illness in case you opt to go for a partial mastectomy and the loss of healthy tissues in the case of a full mastectomy.

  • The risk to cancer, as concluded by certain studies, is the same in patients even after the mastectomy, however, this is the case for individuals who have a genetic disposition towards developing the disease. 

  • The surgery can have psychological effects on the patient. Losing a physical part of the body that relates to the femininity of the individual implies you might have a tough time in adjusting to the body and a newfound self image. 


Who Should Avoid Undergoing Mastectomy?

  • Mastectomy is not recommended for women over the age of 50 and who are  already suffering from heart diseases. It in fact increases complications in their cases and there are lesser chances of the treatment being entirely successful.

  • Pregnant women in their first trimesters can undergo mastectomy but reconstruction should be postponed till after the baby is born.


What Are The Alternatives To Mastectomy?

Breast cancer has several treatment methods that are surgical, affect hormones, focus on radiation and those, which are target specific. 
There are various alternatives that are breast conserving in nature. 

Lumpectomy - It is also called excisional biopsy. It is a procedure that removes only cancerous tumours and the  abnormal tissue that surrounds it, from the breasts. This method does not remove the breasts completely. However, if cancerous cells exist in the tissues surrounding the tumor, the procedure is ineffective. There is also higher chance of cancer relapse.

Quadrantectomy - In this procedure, only a quarter of the tissue from the breasts and the muscles within 2 to 3 cms of the tumors, are removed. However, radiation is generally used after the procedure, which can leave the skin injured and irritated.

Apart from this, chemotherapy is used as supplements to treat the condition where drugs are used to destroy or slow down the growth of cancerous cells in the body.
Radiotherapy also controls the growth of cancer by using high energy waves like gamma rays, x rays and electron beams to destroy cancerous cells. 


Does Mastectomy Lead To Scarring?

Scarring is an inevitable part of mastectomy. Any surgery involves incisions and the size and position of the scar depends on the type of technique chosen. 
Women often find scars and keloids on the incision sites. It is important not to use any anti-scarring creams or cosmetics on the area other than the medication prescribed by the doctor. Castor oil, vitamin E, onion extract, aloe vera and argan oil are some topical ingredients that can help with healing scars. 
Scars heal considerably over time and fade away but revision treatments can also be opted for after a year, after consultation with your surgeon. 


What Are The Temporary Side-effects Of Mastectomy?

Pain - You may feel pain in near the incisons and in the chest wall. Taking over the counter medication, as prescribed by the surgeon will greatly help.

Infection - You should monitor any signs of infection near the wound and let your doctor know about the same. These infections are rare and subside in a 1-2 weeks.

Bleeding - Using ice packs will greatly help ease the discomfort and bleeding. The area should be bandaged properly.

Seroma - The doctors generally place drains to help with fluid retension, however incase of excess buildup, patient can visit the doctor to get the fluid removed.

Fatigue - This is the most common complication. Patients should take rest for some extra weeks after the surgery to be able to recover properly.

Change in sense of balance and arm movement - You can look up some exercises or ask your doctor for them, to ease the stiffness and the tingling sensation that usually appears after the surgery.


How To Choose A Surgeon For  A Mastectomy Surgery?

Choosing the appropriate doctor for a surgery such as mastectomy is as easy as choosing a general physician for a cold, given the number of medical facilities and the high quality of services provided by hospitals due to an emerging medical tourism market. The only difference is that you’re doing it in a foreign country. With the surge in medical tourism and the increasing international recognition of medical practitioners from all corners of the world, it is easy to find the right surgeon, if you follow a few instructions:

  • Researching on the qualification of the surgeon, such as years of experience and education background.

  • Finding out about the accreditation status of the hospital that the doctor works in. 

  • Interacting with the doctor and the managing staff of hospital to see whether he devotes time to you. 

  • Considering patient testimonials of the surgeon and photographic evidence of surgery. 

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