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Medically reviewed by Last updated on Jun 5, 2024.

What do I need to know about a mastectomy?

A mastectomy is surgery to remove all or part of one or both breasts. Tissue, lymph nodes, or muscle near the breast may also be removed. A mastectomy may be done to treat breast cancer or prevent the cancer from spreading. The type of mastectomy used depends on the size of the tumor and if the cancer has spread. A mastectomy can also be done to prevent breast cancer. This may be a choice if you are at high risk for breast cancer.

How do I prepare for a mastectomy?

What will happen during a mastectomy?

What should I expect after a mastectomy?

What are the risks of a mastectomy?

You may bleed more than expected or develop an infection. Nerves, blood vessels, and muscles may be damaged during your surgery. Blood or fluid may collect under your skin. You may need other procedures to remove the fluid or blood. You may have swelling in the arm closest to the mastectomy or where lymph nodes were removed. This swelling is called lymphedema. Lymphedema may cause tingling, numbness, stiffness, and weakness in your arm. This may be permanent. You may get a blood clot in your arm or leg. The blood clot may travel to your heart, lungs, or brain. This may become life-threatening.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.