Want to know more about breast cancer? Dr Nick Plowman, Clinical Oncologist at St Bartholomew's Hospital in London answers some common questions about the symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment of breast cancer. Use the video clip menu below to select a question.
Video transcript: Tell me more about breast surgery
Surgery is usually the first form of treatment that we use for patients with smaller breast tumours, those with small tumours confined within the breast.
Often this could be breast conserving surgery where the lady is left with a cosmetically acceptable, often near normal, breast outline. In other cases where the cancer is larger, perhaps more centrally situated, or in more than one place in the breast, a total mastectomy may be required (that is removal of all the breast tissue).
Sometimes under these circumstances a primary reconstruction procedure can be performed at the same operation. After the surgical procedure, the oncologist will look at the report of the man who looks down the microscope at the tumour and perhaps removed lymph nodes and ascertain a risk category for the patient.
This defines at what risk they are for the future. Patients at a higher risk will merit some chemotherapy or perhaps hormonal therapy or radiotherapy or a combination of all three to reducing their risk of relapsing in the future. This is called adjuvant treatment.