{Breast Care}

Treating Benign Breast Conditions

Often the only treatment necessary for benign breast conditions is assurance and explanation of the condition. Problems may subside on their own.

However, at times, medication or minor surgery many be needed to treat the problem. Evaluations for benign breast conditions may include physical examinations, ultrasound, mammography and removal of fluid or tissue for analysis.

You and your physician will design a plan of treatment based on several factors, including your symptoms, your overall health, the extent of the disease, your tolerance for the suggested treatment and your expectations following treatment.

Breast Cancer Procedures

Surgery is the primary treatment and first line of defense for breast cancer. Surgical removal of early-stage breast cancer has a high rate of success, especially when combined with other, non-surgical cancer treatments.

After your diagnosis, your physician will explain the many surgery options and their benefits and risks. Together, you will then determine the type of surgery that’s most appropriate for you based on the stage of the cancer, its characteristics, your breast size and ultimately, your preference.

The most common types of breast cancer surgery are lumpectomy and mastectomy.

Lumpectomy: A lumpectomy is a procedure that only removes a tumor and some surrounding tissue, conserving the majority of the breast.

Before lumpectomy, you can choose to receive general anesthesia or a local anesthetic to numb the area around the tumor. During surgery, your surgeon will use curved incisions that allow for better healing to remove the tumor and may insert a drain tube into your breast area or armpit to collect any excess fluid.

After he stitches your incision closed and dresses the wound, you’ll be moved into a recovery room, where your heart rate, body temperature and blood pressure will be monitored. The lumpectomy surgery takes 15-45 minutes, and patients usually can return home the same day.

Before going home, you’ll receive a prescription for pain medication and will learn how to care for your incision and/or drain. You’ll also be scheduled for a follow-up visit so your physician can monitor your progress and remove the drain and your stitches, if necessary.

Many women receive several weeks of radiation therapy after lumpectomy to eliminate any cancer cells that may be present in the remaining breast tissue. Some women also take chemotherapy treatments before receiving radiation therapy.

Mastectomy: A mastectomy is the surgical removal of the breast. There are five types of mastectomy, ranging from removal of the entire breast to removal of the cancerous breast tissue and some healthy tissue around it.

The physicians of Surgical Associates frequently perform skin-sparing mastectomy, removing only the skin of the nipple, areola and the original biopsy scar. The cancerous breast tissue is removed through a small opening. The remaining pouch of skin provides the best shape and form to accommodate an implant or a reconstruction using your own tissue. Most women are eligible for this type of mastectomy.

Many women decide to undergo breast reconstruction, but some do not and use prostheses instead. Those who opt for reconstruction often decide to have their breast rebuilt at the same time as their mastectomy.

Mastectomy is performed under general anesthesia. After removal of the breast tissue and any reconstruction, your physician will insert a drain tube into your breast area or armpit to collect excess fluid. He will stitch your incision, dress the wound and wrap your chest in a tight bandage that compresses the area and promotes healing.

You’ll spend an average of three days in the hospital after mastectomy, although it may be longer if you had reconstructive surgery at the same time. Before going home, you’ll receive a prescription for pain medication and will learn how to care for your incision and/or drain. You’ll also be scheduled for a follow-up visit so your physician can monitor your progress and remove the drain and your stitches, if necessary.

After mastectomy, your physician may recommend radiation therapy, especially if your tumor was large or if the cancer was found in several locations throughout your breast.