Surgery is usually the first line of attack against breast cancer.

Surgery is usually the first line of attack against breast cancer. This section explains the different types of breast cancer surgery.

Decisions about surgery depend on many factors. You and your doctor will determine the kind of surgery that’s most appropriate for you based on the stage of the cancer, the "personality" of the cancer, and what is acceptable to you in terms of your long-term peace of mind.


What to Expect With Any Surgery

Learn the basic steps common to all breast cancer surgeries.


Mastectomy vs. Lumpectomy

Learn the pros and cons if you are given the option to choose between surgeries.



Lumpectomy, also known as breast-conserving surgery, is the removal of only the tumor and a small amount of surrounding tissue. Learn more.



Mastectomy is the removal of the breast tissue. There are multiple types of mastectomy, defined by what other types of tissues are removed. Learn more.


Lymph Node Removal

Lymph node removal can take place during lumpectomy and mastectomy if the biopsy shows that breast cancer has spread outside the milk duct. Learn more.


Breast Reconstruction

Reconstruction is the rebuilding of the breast after mastectomy and sometimes lumpectomy. Reconstruction can take place at the same time as cancer-removing surgery, or months to years later. Some women decide not to have reconstruction or opt for a prosthesis instead. Learn more.


Prophylactic Ovary Removal

Prophylactic ovary removal is a preventive surgery that lowers the amount of estrogen in the body, making it harder for estrogen to stimulate the development of breast cancer. Learn more.



Cryotherapy, also called cryosurgery, uses extreme cold to freeze and kill cancer cells. Learn more.

— Last updated on February 7, 2022, 8:23 PM

Reviewed by 3 medical advisers
Thomas G. Frazier, MD
Main Line Health, Bryn Mawr, PA
Anne Rosenberg, MD
Thomas Jefferson University Health System, Philadelphia, PA
Marisa C. Weiss, MD
Lankenau Medical Center, Wynnewood, PA
Learn more about our advisory board
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