Mastectomy may be the right choice for you if the following is true for you:
- If the tumor is larger than 5 centimeters, you will probably need a mastectomy. Depending on stage and other factors, some tumors smaller than 5 centimeters may still require mastectomy, although others may be addressed by lumpectomy.
- If your breast is small and a lumpectomy would leave you with very little breast tissue, your doctor may advise you to have a mastectomy.
- If your surgeon has already made multiple attempts to remove the tumor with lumpectomy, but has not been able to completely remove the cancer and obtain clear margins, you may need a mastectomy.
- If lumpectomy plus radiation is not an option for your small tumor (for example, under 4 centimeters) because you have had prior radiation to the same breast, you have a connective tissue disease (lupus, rheumatoid arthritis), you are pregnant, or you do not want to commit to daily radiation treatment, you may need to have a mastectomy.
- If you believe mastectomy would give you greater peace of mind than lumpectomy, you might decide to have a mastectomy.
"My decision to have a double mastectomy was guided by my age, family history and attitudes about my breasts. I'd gained weight and had actually become uncomfortable with my breasts, and all my life I'd had a history of tenderness in my breasts. So I felt I wasn't going to miss them very much."