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A mastectomy is usually carried out to treat breast cancer and is the surgical removal of one or both breasts, partially or completely. Mastectomy is used to remove all breast tissue if you have breast cancer or are at very high risk of developing it. Patients may have a mastectomy to remove one breast (unilateral mastectomy) or both breasts (bilateral mastectomy). This procedure may be a treatment option for many types of breast cancer, including:

  • ductal carcinoma in situ
  • inflammatory breast cancer, ¬†after chemotherapy
  • locally recurrent breast cancer
  • Paget's disease of the breast
  • stage III (locally advanced) breast cancer, after chemotherapy
  • stages I and II (early-stage) breast cancer

Mastectomy without reconstruction usually takes 1-3 hours, and usually requires 1 additional day in the hospital. However, if you are having both breasts removed, you might need to spend more time in surgery and possibly more time in the hospital. During surgery, your doctor makes an elliptical incision around your breast, removes the breast tissue and, depending on your procedure, other parts of the breast also may be removed and will be sent to a laboratory for analysis.

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