Mastectomy is removal of the breast along with other surrounding affected tissue. A simple mastectomy involves removing the breast along with an ellipse of skin that encompasses the nipple-areola complex. Unlike a radical mastectomy, it does not involve removal of the underlying muscles and uninvolved lymph nodes.
All mastectomies remove the whole breast. However, the amount of surrounding tissue removed during surgery varies due to the size and location of tumors and where the cancer might have spread differ from one person to another.
Three types of mastectomy procedures include:
Total or simple mastectomy removes of the whole breast.
Modified radical mastectomy removes the whole breast and the lymph nodes under the arm (axillary lymph nodes).
Radical mastectomy removes the breast, chest muscles, and all of the lymph nodes under the arm (axillary lymph node dissection). This surgery is not as common.