How We Chose Between a Lumpectomy and Mastectomy

Living With Lung Cancer

Women who are diagnosed with breast cancer commonly wonder, “Should I have a lumpectomy or a mastectomy?” When facing this question, WhatNexters agree that this is a very personal decision based on their doctor’s input and what they feel is best for them.

Below is a summary of some of the factors that WhatNexters took into consideration when they made their decision. As always, be sure to consult your doctor. The following information should not be considered as medical advice.

For more information on a lumpectomy or mastectomy visit the American Cancer Society's page on Surgery for Breast Cancer.

Family History

Family history and the BRCA gene is a factor that women take into account.

“I was stage 2 and BRCA was negative as was secondary genetic testing. So I chose a lumpectomy (with clear margins).” -- Debbie, Breast Cancer, Stage II

“I was going for the bilateral mastectomy with reconstruction. Some people thought I was being too aggressive, but because of breast cancer in my family I didn't want to take any chances.” -- benge thumbnail Benge, Breast Cancer, Stage I

Surgery and Reconstruction

Some women say that they choose based on how invasive the surgery is.

I decided on lumpectomy. I prefer simple solutions that are no more invasive than necessary.” -- Virginiab, Invasive Ductal Carcinoma, Stage II

For me, the odds were almost the same for either surgery, so a lumpectomy seemed less invasive to me. I am just very diligent about all my checkups.” -- sandid thumbnail SandiD, Invasive Ductal Carcinoma, Stage I

I chose a mastectomy. I only had cancer in one breast but did not want to go through any of this again. I had my surgery in June and immediate tram-flap reconstruction.” -- Trish, Breast Cancer


Financial and out of pocket costs along with insurance coverage are factors that some women have had to consider when making their decision.

“I didn't have the greatest insurance and wanted it done as cheaply as possible. I couldn't afford 6 to 8 weeks off work, as my wages are needed to make ends meet. It is terrible when your health depends on your paycheck.” -- diana60 thumbnail Diana60, Ductal Carcinoma In Situ, Stage 0

Related Article: How to Talk to Your Insurance Company and What to Ask

Peace of Mind

For someone women, it boils down to their emotional response. Some women base their surgery decision off of their “sanity” or mental perspective. Many say they want peace of mind in whatever decision they make.

“I'm a worrier, and I didn't want to have to worry everyday whether cancer would occur in my other breast. I also wanted to be as proactive as possible.” -- Jvbaseballmom2, Breast Cancer, Stage IIA

I decided on lumpectomy and radiation. I could not at this point decide to remove part of my body if there was a chance to save it.” -- beannie thumbnail Beannie, Breast Cancer, Stage I

“My subsequent MRI showed some more suspicious areas. I did not want to take the chance. I did the mastectomy on the left breast.” -- debco148, Breast Cancer, Stage II

“My medical oncologist suggested that I do a mastectomy. Peace of mind for my husband and me was the most important thing. -- DianaL, Invasive Lobular Carcinoma, Stage II

I decided on a bilateral mastectomy. My surgeon and oncologist agreed. I cannot imagine having to go through this again should the cancer appear in my other breast down the road.” -- laurie2025, Breast Cancer, Stage IIIA

You might also want to consider a second opinion before making a decision, as many WhatNexters did. Share your experience and tell us how you decided between a lumpectomy and mastectomy. What factors went into this very personal decision?

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    • scared's Avatar

      Now I wish I had gone with bilateral masectomy due to cancer returning. Stage II, Grade III, invasive ductal carcinoma spread to the lymph nodes. I agree that a lot of advice you get from the docs is based on your insurance......sad.

      about 8 years ago
    • Lorries' Avatar

      I agree with you, I am going to get a second opinion. This is not a fair treatment

      almost 8 years ago