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For women who are considering surgery for breast cancer, this is a nice video showing anatomy of the breast and lymph glands in the armpit as well as basic elements of breast cancer surgery. Here’s more information from our companion website, patientresource.net:
The two types of surgery used for primary treatment of breast cancer are a partial mastectomy (lumpectomy) and a total or complete mastectomy. With either of these procedures, lymph nodes under the arm (axillary nodes) are removed for biopsy and more are removed if there is documented spread to these nodes. In addition, reconstructive surgery may be done to rebuild the breast to look similar to its preoperative appearance. Other surgery that may be considered is a prophylactic (preventive) mastectomy of the opposite breast in limited circumstances.
It is important to note that both types of surgery are associated with similar long-term survival, but each one has its unique set of side effects and complications. Because of this, a woman’s perspective on quality of life is an important consideration in deciding which surgery to have.