Mayo Clinic's approach

Surgeons in an operating room

Experienced surgeons perform breast cancer operations at Mayo Clinic.

Mayo Clinic's highly trained breast cancer surgeons work in coordinated surgical teams using the latest advances to care for people with breast cancer and those with a high risk of developing the disease in the future.

Your Mayo Clinic care team

People with breast cancer who choose Mayo Clinic for breast cancer surgery will find highly experienced surgeons who provide expert care. Breast cancer surgeons work closely with other specialists to create a personalized treatment approach that provides you with whole-person care.

Your care team might include:

Your appointments will be coordinated so that you can carefully consider your options and meet with a variety of specialists, often in a matter of days. If you choose surgery as your initial treatment, your operation is scheduled promptly, when possible, to avoid long wait times.

Surgeon meeting with a patient

Mayo Clinic surgeons provide compassionate care for people with breast cancer.

Expert care by world-class surgeons

Mayo Clinic breast cancer surgeons are highly trained and experienced:

  • More than 9,500 people seek breast cancer care each year
  • Nearly 1,500 people undergo breast cancer surgery each year

Research shows that people who are treated for breast cancer at medical centers that treat many cases of breast cancer have better outcomes than do people treated at medical centers that treat breast cancer less frequently.

Breast cancer surgeons draw on their extensive training to use the latest surgical techniques to provide expert care for:

Surgeons in an operating room

Mayo Clinic breast cancer surgeons use the latest operative techniques.

Advanced surgical techniques

Feeling whole after breast cancer.

Click here for an infographic to learn more

Mayo Clinic breast cancer surgeons are trained in the latest operations and technology used to perform lumpectomy and mastectomy, including:

  • Nipple-sparing mastectomy for cancer prevention and cancer treatment
  • Breast imaging during surgery to ensure the viability of skin used to reconstruct the breast and reduce the risk of skin complications (intraoperative breast angiography)
  • Evaluating breast tumors during surgery using techniques such as intraoperative pathology and frozen section analysis to ensure all the cancer is removed and reduce the need for additional surgery
  • Immediate breast reconstruction using operative techniques such as immediate implant reconstruction (sometimes called breast-in-a-day surgery), when appropriate, and reconstruction using excess breast skin and fatty tissue (sometimes called a Goldilocks mastectomy) or total fat grafting
  • All types of breast reconstruction using implants and your own tissue (flap surgery), including technically demanding, microsurgical procedures that spare your muscle tissue such as deep inferior epigastric perforator (DIEP) flap surgery
A surgeon discussing a case with a colleague

Mayo Clinic surgeons are working to improve outcomes for people with breast cancer.

Innovations in breast cancer surgery

Related video

Watch Mayo Clinic breast surgeons discuss breast cancer surgery on YouTube

Mayo Clinic surgeons are improving the outcomes of breast cancer surgery by creating treatments that are:

  • Reducing the time involved in treatment so you can return to daily life sooner with techniques such as immediate breast reconstruction that combines mastectomy and reconstruction in one procedure, and lumpectomy with accelerated partial breast irradiation to complete surgery and radiation therapy in less than 10 days.
  • Improving your confidence in your appearance by combining the best techniques for cancer control with approaches that maximize the natural appearance of your breasts (oncoplastic sugery), such as lumpectomy procedures that include breast lift and breast reduction
  • Controlling pain after mastectomy to reduce the need for strong pain drugs by providing non-narcotic medications before surgery, placing long-acting anesthetic in the surgical site, and using massage and other integrative medicine techniques during recovery
  • Reducing the risk of lymphedema by devising effective chemotherapy and hormone therapy regimens that can be used before surgery (neoadjuvant therapy) to reduce the need for lymph node dissection, routinely using sentinel node biopsy to test whether cancer has spread to the lymph nodes, and identifying the nodes vital to lymph drainage in the arms (axillary lymph node mapping)

Mayo Clinic breast surgeons are leaders in breast cancer and breast surgery research. This allows patients to receive the latest in treatment advances.

Mayo Clinic breast surgeons are studying ways to improve cancer control and reduce complications of surgery in clinical trials.

Jane Brandhagen: It was a shock, you know. I was already in my mind picking out wigs and thinking how much longer I'd have here. I was terrified.

Dennis Stoda: Jane Brandhagen was facing the news one in eight women will hear-- she had breast cancer. Her yearly mammogram had revealed a small tumor. She wanted to treat it very aggressively and wanted to wrap up her treatments as quickly as possible.

Jane Brandhagen: I could have gone with a full-out double mastectomy, and then I would be done.

Dennis Stoda: Mayo Clinic surgeon Dr. Tina Hieken says it's the main decision breast cancer patients have to make, to remove the entire breast in a mastectomy or have breast preserving surgery. Because Jane's cancer was caught early, Dr. Hieken says she was a good candidate for a new option which would also reduce her entire treatment to just a matter of days.

Tina J. Hieken, M.D., Breast/Melanoma Surgery, Mayo Clinic: So for those patients who have no evidence of disease in the lymph node and have small tumors that are completely removed with a lumpectomy, they leave the operating room with a catheter in place. It's an outpatient procedure.

Sean Park, M.D., Ph.D., Radiation Oncology, Mayo Clinic: So this is a breast model with the brachytherapy catheter device inserted into the lumpectomy cavity.

Dennis Stoda: Called brachytherapy, the catheter delivers the necessary follow-up radiation treatments internally in a fraction of the time of standard external radiation therapy.

Dr. Park: Treatments are done over five week days, twice a day, approximately six hours apart for a total of 10 treatments.

Dennis Stoda: Brachytherapy itself is not new, but patients routinely have to wait two to four weeks for a second surgery to implant the catheter, because that can't happen until a pathology report comes back saying it's OK to proceed. So Dr. Park and Dr. Hieken designed a treatment regimen to eliminate the waiting time by using a single surgery. First, special dyes are injected to identify any cancer cells that may have spread beyond the tumor site or to the lymph nodes under the arm. That allows a pathologist to immediately screen the lymph nodes and a safe margin of tissue removed from around the tumor while the patient is still under anesthesia. Once the all-clear is given, the surgery continues with a second incision to insert the brachytherapy catheter and expand it, filling the lumpectomy cavity. The very next day, the patient's radiation plan is mapped out during a simulation. The following morning, the brachytherapy begins using a computer-controlled robotic machine which manipulates a single radioactive seed smaller than a grain of rice within the implanted catheter.

Dr. Park: The radioactive seed will travel through the cable into the patient, into the catheter, and stop at different locations that we program it to for a different amount of time, and that shapes the radiation dose.

Dennis Stoda: Unlike externally-delivered radiation, Dr. Park says brachytherapy is delivered more precisely to the target area without passing through healthy tissue.

Dr. Park: Meaning the breast tissue, the chest wall, lung tissue, for left-sided cancer patients, importantly, the heart tissue.

Dennis Stoda: It's hoped the expedited brachytherapy option encourages more women to receive the full benefit of their recommended post-surgery radiation, particularly those living far from a treatment center.

Dr. Hieken: So with standard therapy, they're driving a couple hundred miles round trip each day for three, four, or six weeks. The actual rate of completing the radiation may be as low as 60% or 70%.

Dennis Stoda: Jane says she leaped at the chance to be part of a pilot study that completed her brachytherapy in just three sessions.

Jane Brandhagen: So from Monday to Friday, five days, that was surgery and radiation all in five days, which I think is amazing.

Dennis Stoda: Jane and other patients in the study will continue to be followed for five years to verify that their long-term health and survival is just as good as those receiving standard radiation procedures. For the Mayo Clinic News Network, I'm Dennis Stoda.

The Mayo Clinic experience and patient stories

Our patients tell us that the quality of their interactions, our attention to detail and the efficiency of their visits mean health care like they've never experienced. See the stories of satisfied Mayo Clinic patients.

Expertise and rankings

Breast cancer surgeon discusses options with patient

Mayo Clinic breast cancer surgeons are widely respected for their experience and knowledge in advanced surgical techniques that improve cancer control and reduce the complications of breast cancer surgery.

Nationally recognized expertise

Outside organizations recognize Mayo Clinic breast cancer specialists through accreditations, grants and rankings:

  • Mayo Clinic Comprehensive Cancer Center meets strict standards for a National Cancer Institute comprehensive cancer center, recognizing scientific excellence and a multispecialty approach focused on cancer prevention, diagnosis and treatment.
  • Mayo Clinic is accredited by the American College of Surgeons' Commission on Cancer and multiple campuses are accredited by the National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers.
  • Mayo Clinic is one of a select group of medical centers in the United States to be recognized as a Specialized Program of Research Excellence (SPORE) for breast cancer research, funded by the National Cancer Institute. To earn a highly competitive SPORE grant, institutions must demonstrate a high degree of collaboration between first-rate scientists and clinicians and show excellence in translational research projects.
  • Mayo Clinic doctors and researchers participate in research cooperatives, such as the Alliance for Clinical Trials in Oncology, which gives people with cancer access to the latest clinical trials.

Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, and Mayo Clinic in Phoenix/Scottsdale, Arizona, are ranked among the Best Hospitals for cancer by U.S. News & World Report. Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida, is ranked highly performing for cancer by U.S. News & World Report.

Locations, travel and lodging

Mayo Clinic has major campuses in Phoenix and Scottsdale, Arizona; Jacksonville, Florida; and Rochester, Minnesota. The Mayo Clinic Health System has dozens of locations in several states.

For more information on visiting Mayo Clinic, choose your location below:

Costs and insurance

Mayo Clinic works with hundreds of insurance companies and is an in-network provider for millions of people.

In most cases, Mayo Clinic doesn't require a physician referral. Some insurers require referrals, or may have additional requirements for certain medical care. All appointments are prioritized on the basis of medical need.

Learn more about appointments at Mayo Clinic.

Please contact your insurance company to verify medical coverage and to obtain any needed authorization prior to your visit. Often, your insurer's customer service number is printed on the back of your insurance card.

More information about billing and insurance:

Mayo Clinic in Arizona, Florida and Minnesota

Mayo Clinic Health System

Clinical trials

Explore Mayo Clinic studies of tests and procedures to help prevent, detect, treat or manage conditions.

Oct. 10, 2020
  1. AskMayoExpert. Breast cancer. Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2017.
  2. AskMayoExpert. Breast reconstruction. Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2017.
  3. Breast cancer. Fort Washington, Pa.: National Comprehensive Cancer Network. Accessed June 28, 2017.
  4. Townsend CM Jr, et al., eds. Diseases of the breast. Sabiston Textbook of Surgery: The Biological Basis of Modern Surgical Practice. 20th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2017. Accessed June 28, 2017.
  5. Kwong A, et al. Mastectomy: Indications, types and concurrent axillary lymph node management. Accessed July 6, 2017.
  6. Warner KJ. Allscripts EPSi. Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. April 21, 2017.
  7. McDermott AM, et al. Surgeon and breast unit volume-outcome relationships in breast cancer surgery and treatment. Annals of Surgery. 2013;258:808.
  8. Choi M, et al. Breast in a day: Examining single-stage immediate, permanent implant reconstruction in nipple-sparing mastectomy. Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. 2016;138:184e.
  9. Richardson G, et al. The Goldilocks mastectomy. International Journal of Surgery. 2012;10:522.
  10. Hieken TJ, et al. A novel treatment schedule for rapid completion of surgery and radiation in early-stage breast cancer. Annals of Surgical Oncology. 2016;23:3297.
  11. Anderson BO, et al. Oncoplastic techniques in breast conserving therapy. Accessed July 6, 2017.
  12. Fahy AS, et al. Paravertebral blocks in patients undergoing mastectomy with or without immediate reconstruction provides improved pain control and decreased postoperative nausea and vomiting. Annals of Surgical Oncology. 2014;21:3284.
  13. Abdelsattar JM, et al. Comparative study of liposomal bupivacaine versus paravertebral block for pain control following mastectomy with immediate tissue expander reconstruction. Annals of Surgical Oncology. 2016;23:465.
  14. Drackley NL, et al. Effect of massage therapy for postsurgical mastectomy recipients. Clinical Journal of Oncology Nursing. 2012;16:121.
  15. Parks RM, et al. Axillary reverse mapping in N0 patients requiring sentinel lymph node biopsy — A systematic review of the literature and necessity of a randomized study. The Breast. 2017;33:57.
  16. Jakub J, et al. Oncologic safety of prophylactic nipple-sparing mastectomy in a population with BRCA mutations: A multi-institutional study. JAMA Surgery. In press. Accessed Sept. 18, 2017.
  17. Breast SPOREs. National Cancer Institute. Accessed July 3, 2017.
  18. National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers. American College of Surgeons. Accessed Aug. 2, 2017.
  19. Effects of anesthesia. American Society of Anesthesiologists. home/preparing for surgery/effects of anesthesia. Accessed Aug. 1, 2017.
  20. Jakub JW (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota. July 31, 2017.
  21. Hieken TJ (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota. Aug. 1, 2017.
  22. Searching for cancer centers. American College of Surgeons. Accessed Aug. 2, 2017.