Mastectomy is surgery to remove all breast tissue from a breast as a way to treat or prevent breast cancer.

For those with early-stage breast cancer, mastectomy may be one treatment option. Breast-conserving surgery (lumpectomy), in which only the tumor is removed from the breast, may be another option. Deciding between mastectomy and lumpectomy can be difficult. Both procedures are equally effective. But lumpectomy isn't an option for everyone with breast cancer, and others prefer to undergo a mastectomy.

Newer mastectomy techniques can preserve breast skin and allow for a more natural breast appearance following the procedure. Surgery to restore shape to your breast — called breast reconstruction — may be done at the same time as your mastectomy or during a second operation at a later date.

Oct. 26, 2011