Making the Decision to Have Breast-Conserving Surgery
Breast-conserving surgery may be right for you if you have any of these stages of cancer:
Stage 0, meaning you don't have a tumor but you have ductal carcinoma in situ.
Stage I, meaning you don't have cancer cells in your lymph nodes, or it is in only a few nodes, and the tumor is less than 2 cm.
Stage II, meaning the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes under your arm and/or the tumor is 2 to 5 cm across.
Stage IIIA, meaning the tumor is less than 5 cm across and the cancer in your underarm lymph nodes is extensive or has spread to other nodes or tissues near the breast.
In some cases, breast-conserving surgery is an option for women with Stage IIIB or IIIC cancers as well.
Many women prefer this type of surgery to having their whole breast removed with a mastectomy. Radiation treatment is strongly recommended afterward; however, this is sometimes true after a mastectomy, too. Deciding whether to have breast-conserving surgery also depends on these factors:
Size and location of your tumor
Size of your breast
Certain features of your mammogram
How you feel about preserving your breast
Keep in mind that even if you are able to have breast-conserving surgery, you can still choose to have a mastectomy. Also know that if the cancer has spread to lymph nodes, you will have to have them removed.
Breast-conserving surgery with radiation therapy has been shown to be as effective as a mastectomy for Stage I and Stage II breast cancer. Discuss your options with your doctor.