A modified radical mastectomy is the removal of one entire breast and a few of the lymph nodes in the armpit. This surgery is done to remove a breast cancer that cannot be removed safely by a smaller surgery such as a lumpectomy.

If your physician is recommending this surgery, you probably have had a biopsy that diagnosed a breast cancer. The best method for curing some forms of cancer is to have a mastectomy, often followed with additional treatment.

You will be asleep for the one to two hours that it takes to complete this procedure. You will have an incision from the middle of the chest that extends underneath the armpit. There will be 2 tubes coming from the wound that will drain fluid into small plastic containers. The breast and lymph nodes will be sent to pathology immediately, but it may take up to four business days before the results are obtained. Most patients will stay in the hospital for one to three days with a total recovery period of four to six weeks. The drains will be removed in the office within one week of surgery and the staples in the incision will be removed within two to three weeks.

Your doctor will talk to you in the office about further treatment that you may need. Your doctor can also discuss options for breast reconstruction if you are interested.