The goal of breast cancer surgery is to remove the cancer in the breast and to reduce the risk of the cancer coming back in the breast.
Removal of the entire breast, called a mastectomy, is no longer needed for most patients to achieve this goal. Breast conservation therapy, which includes a lumpectomy followed by radiation, has been shown to result in acceptably low rates of in breast recurrence and allows a patient to keep her natural breast.
A lumpectomy, also called a partial mastectomy, is the most common operation performed for breast cancer.
Although a mastectomy involves removal of as much of the underlying breast tissue as technically possible, there are variations in how much of the overlying skin envelope is preserved.