Lumpectomy is one type of breast surgery. This is when the surgeon tries to keep as much breast tissue as possible. A mastectomy is when the entire breast is removed. There are three types of mastectomies: modified radical (removal of the breast, lining of chest muscles, and some underarm lymph nodes), total or simple mastectomy (removal of entire breast), and radical (removal of breast, lining of chest muscle, and most of the lower, middle, and upper lymph nodes).
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Stuart Linder, MD, Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery, answered
After a patient has undergone surgery for a malignant tumor of the breast, different surgical procedures may be possible for removal of this tumor. Depending upon the size of the tumor and whether there is spread, several options are available. The options include simply removing the tumor as a lumpectomy, removal of a larger portion of the breast tissue as a simple mastectomy or removal of all of the breast to the subdermis referred to as a modified radical mastectomy. Patients who undergo lumpectomy normally will also undergo radiation therapy, chemotherapy and removal of the sentinel lymph node. One to two lymph nodes can be removed. Conservative treatment of the rest of the axillary lymph nodes is now in the forefront. In fact, recent studies with the Journal of the American Medical Association from February 2011 indicate leaving the majority of lymph nodes when there is only one or two positive lymph nodes may greatly reduce women's postoperative sequelae including pain and swelling of the upper arm region, however, does not increase risk of recurrence of cancer by leaving these lymph nodes.