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A mastectomy serves to remove a cancerous breast. Some women have multiple cancers in the breast, so a mastectomy is necessary to remove all the cancer. Other women have large cancers in small breasts, so a mastectomy is necessary for removal of the cancer. For these women, neoadjuvant chemotherapy can sometimes shrink the cancer and allow them to have breast conservation. Some women choose to have prophylactic mastectomy, or remove a healthy breast prior to developing a breast cancer. These women usually have genetic mutations putting them at increased lifetime risk of breast cancer. Finally, women who cannot undergo radiation after lumpectomy (due to prior radiation, connective tissue disorder, or pregnancy) often elect to have mastectomy.
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