It’s been estimated that over 100,000 Americans undergo a mastectomy every year. Some of these are preventive while others are meant to treat breast cancer. However, there’s a lot you need to know before you agree to have this procedure.
10 Questions To Ask Before Having A Mastectomy
1. What are my options if I don’t have the surgery?
Some of the other treatments for breast cancer include chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and hormone therapy. However, your doctor might recommend a mastectomy based on the location and size of your tumor.
2. What are my surgery options?
There are different types of mastectomies and your doctor will make a suggestion depending on your scenario. For example, a simple mastectomy removes the whole breast and most of the overlying skin. A skin-saving mastectomy preserves enough skin for a reconstruction to be possible. If your tumor has a risk of spreading, you may have a radical mastectomy which removes the breast, skin, chest muscles, and lymph nodes under the arm.
3. Will I need any kind of treatment before doing surgery?
Sometimes, doctors implement what is known as neoadjuvant therapy. This type of therapy is geared toward shrinking your tumor before the surgery. A smaller tumor can lead to a less intensive and more successful surgery.
4. Am I a good candidate for reconstructive surgery?
In reconstructive surgery, you would receive breast implants after the doctor has completed the mastectomy. However, if your body can’t accommodate implants after a procedure, you need to know.
5. What are the risks of the surgery?
Some of the risks of a mastectomy include bleeding, developing a hematoma, getting hard scars, and having swelling under your arm.
6. How long is the recovery period?
The recovery period can vary depending on the type of procedure you have. It can take three to four weeks to recover from the least invasive option. If you had reconstructive surgery as well, that can add another two to three weeks to your recovery time.
7. What are the odds of the cancer spreading after surgery?
It’s possible for tumors to develop in the future in the chest wall. These tumors can then spread to other parts of the body. You’re at a higher risk of this occurrence if you have the BRCA gene or have had other types of cancer.
8. Will I need further treatment after surgery?
Occasionally, doctors recommend complementary therapy with a mastectomy. This course is likely if the tumors spread to areas that are adjacent to the breast such as the lymph nodes. Even if the nodes were removed, your doctor might want to ensure that