Using this guide What's covered
Here you’ll find answers to many of your questions about breast cancer surgery, including lumpectomy and mastectomy. Learn how it’s done, what it may cost, what your recovery may be like, and more.
To see how lumpectomy and mastectomy surgeries are done, view our animations below. For personal insights into lumpectomy surgery, see our patient experience videos in which HCF members talk frankly about their preparation, surgery and recovery.
What’s breast cancer?
Breast cancer starts when cells in your breast start growing in an uncontrolled way. It’s the second most common cancer affecting Australian women. 1 in 8 women will develop breast cancer during their lifetime. Around 1% of breast cancers are found in men. The surgical options are similar for men and women.
Breast cancer in women is often detected through a breast cancer screening mammogram.
What’s breast cancer surgery?
There are 2 types of breast cancer surgery:
A lumpectomy, or breast conserving surgery, is often used in early stage breast cancer. It’s also known as a partial mastectomy or wide local excision. The surgeon removes the cancer and a small amount of surrounding tissue.
A mastectomy (with or without reconstruction) involves the complete removal of your breast tissue. There are several types of mastectomy:
- Simple or total mastectomy – removal of your entire breast, without removing your lymph nodes or pectoral muscles.
- Skin-sparing mastectomy – your nipple and areola are usually removed along with the breast tissue, but the rest of the skin over your breast is kept.
- Nipple-sparing mastectomy – your breast tissue is removed but the breast skin, including your nipple and areola, is kept. In Australia, this type of surgery isn’t widely offered.
- Radical mastectomy – (now rarely performed). This involves complete removal of your breast tissue. It may include removal of your nipple/areola, some overlying skin, some of your pectoral muscles and the lymph nodes under your arm.
Preparing for surgery
Your breast biopsy
A biopsy is usually the first step before surgery.
Types of breast cancer surgery
There are several types of surgery for the treatment of breast cancer.
Results vs risks of the procedures
The benefits and risks of breast cancer surgery.
Choosing a specialist
How to find a surgeon who specialises in breast cancer surgery.
Surgery and aftercare
Give us feedback
Eligible HCF members with chronic diseases can access nurse-led telephone support through our My Health Guardian program.
Find a doctor
Search for specialists who participate in our Medicover no-gap or known-gap scheme.
Find a health professional
Search for providers who participate in our More for You program. Find physios, chiros, podiatrists and more.
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