• For those of you who had both options available, how did you decide between a lumpectomy and a mastectomy?

    Asked by Julesmom on Wednesday, February 13, 2013

    For those of you who had both options available, how did you decide between a lumpectomy and a mastectomy?

    Was it your doctor's recommendation that was the biggest influence on your decision? What was the deciding factor or factors?

    25 Answers from the Community

    25 answers
    • ConnieB's Avatar

      I had the option of either one and chose the bi -lateral mastectomy. I only had cancer in one breast, but didn't want to worry about getting it again in my breasts. I don't regret it.

      over 3 years ago
    • Nancebeth's Avatar

      Due to the size and location of my tumor, I could have gone either way. I decided on a bilateral mastectomy to lessen my chances of recurrence. I did not want to have to worry about the cancer appearing again in my breast(s). I was able to have immediate reconstruction with Natrelle Silicone Gel Implants. My PS is a good friend of mine from elementary school and I trust him completely. He did not tell me what to do but he did if I was his sister, he would advise her to do the same as I did. Due to my Oncotype DX score, chemo was strongly recommended and I had 6 sessions of CMF cocktail. I write a blog and it details why I made all of my decision.

      over 3 years ago
    • Trish's Avatar

      I had the option of either one and chose bi-lateral mastectomy. as with connieB 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. long road but not impossible. grateful for love and support of family and friends

      over 3 years ago
    • AlizaMLS's Avatar

      I decided between a lumpectomy and a mastectomy (I was a candidate for both) by considering several criteria. 1) I'm a Lupus patient (as well as a breast cancer patient). Lupus patients are supposed to avoid the sun, UV rays and radiation. I was evaluated by my rheumatologist and the radiologic oncologist at the hospital where I was treated and heard the pluses and minuses. The pluses were great. The minuses (of radiation) weren't - every day for 4-7 weeks (5 days per week). It's a 2-hr trip to the hospital from home one way. Pretty exhausting. There is no guarantee that the radiation wouldn't "cook" my breast, i.e., make it look like leather (meaning I'd still need plastic surgery).

      The mastectomy meant that they'd remove all the cancer if it wasn't in my lymph nodes (and it turned out not to be), so I''m exceptionally lucky. I'm cancer free. I don't need chemo, just hormonal therapy. I'm unusual. I had a unilateral mastectomy not a bilateral (I rethink that from time to time [I can have my other breast removed if I want to at any time for prophylactic reasons {but I had a genetic test that proved my risk of reoccurrence is not greater than anyone in the general population}]). I can also have it removed for cosmetic reasons so I'll match exactly. I think about that too. It's not vanity. We're women-we want to look good. But in the end I chose the mastectomy because I felt it was safer for me in terms of lupus and in terms of reoccurence.

      over 3 years ago
    • Debbie's Avatar

      I left the decision to my surgeon. This is something she deals with many times a day and I trusted her decision. I was stage 2. BRAC was negative as was secondary genetic testing. So lumpectomy (with clear margins), 4 months of chemo and 30 radiation treatments.

      over 3 years ago
    • JennyMiller's Avatar

      I had made the decision for a bilateral mastectomy before I even saw the surgeon -- I wanted to be agressive in my battle against this evil and elusive enemy -- and I wanted the peace of mind of knowing that I did everything I could. My surgeon was in complete agreement.

      over 3 years ago
    • Benge's Avatar

      So sorry you have to go through this too!! It's a hard decision!! When I found out that I had cancer, it was only a stage 0, so it was in the ducts and the BRAC test came back negative. My surgeon gave me the different choices and it was so hard to make the decision. I prayed a lot, spoke to different people that had breast cancer and finally felt in peace with my decision. I was going for the bi-lateral mastectomy with reconstruction with tissue expanders. Some people thought I was being too aggressive, but because of breast cancer in my family I didn't want to take any chances. After the surgery I went to my follow up appointment and my surgeon told me the news that I made the right decision. The pathology rapport came back and they found an 8mm cancer which they were stunned about, because the MRI didn't show it. The surgeon checked the MRI again and she still didn't see it. It was real deep in the tissue which mine is dense. I did have to go back to surgery to check lymph nodes. She took 5 and they were all clear. They sent the tumor to the lab and it came back as a slow growing one. So that is all good news. I went to my oncologist and he told me that he is sending the tumor for a more extensive test which they normally don't do because of the cost so I will hear tomorrow what grade the cancer is. My oncologist wants to make sure if I need chemo or not. I will have to take the 5 year pill that will cut down the chance by 1/3 for cancer to come back. I thank God that he gave me peace with my decision!!

      over 3 years ago
    • DianaL's Avatar

      Hi Julesmom, I had the choice for lumpectomy because all the biopsy results indicated it was a good option for me. I was going to have brachytherapy for a week as my radiation. I had the lumpectomy with good pathology while in surgery; however, when I went to see my surgeon the final path was not that great. I had some microscopic cancer cells in two of the three sentinel nodes and a second cancer was found that had not shown up in either mammogram or ultrasound. My surgeon wanted to do a unilateral mastectomy but suggested that I talk with my medical oncologist. It was his suggestion that I do the bi-lateral--peace of mind for me and my husband was the most important thing. He also told me that a mastectomy is not a bad thing!
      I had the bi-lateral and the final path was great--they had got all the cancer in the lumpectomy and the additional 13 nodes were negative. No radiation and 4 rounds of chemo every three weeks. For me the chemo was not bad at al just had fatigue. I am having breast reconstruction tomorrow with expanders and some lyposuction from my back. In March I will turn 66 and be on my way to having perky boobs again. Just remember to make the best decision for you and your family. At 65 I wanted conservative but God had other plans for me and I cannot be sorry for one thing that I have done! Hugs and prayers coming your way!

      over 3 years ago
    • debco148's Avatar

      For me, the initial tumor was over 2cm. Subsequent MRI showed some more suspicious areas. I did not wan to take the chance. I did the mastectomy on the left breast. I feel better having made this decision because the other areas were cancerous as proven in full pathology report. MRI can be false positive, but I just didn't feel comfortable leaving it to a guess. I would ask lots of questions. Did you have the MRI and other tests? Is your cancer agressive, type of cancer (mine was er, pr+). Also, how big is your tumor (s)? and will the lumpectomy leave you with a big dent anyway? Just get all the facts. Wishing you good healing thoughts.

      over 3 years ago
    • laurie2025's Avatar

      I have not had my surgery yet, am still having chemo first to shrink my tumor which is about 6 mm. I have pretty much decided though to have the bilateral mastectomy. My surgeon and oncologist agree. I just cannot imagine having to go through this again, should the cancer appear in my other breast down the road. 2 people in my family have had breast cancer as well, which is also part of why I have made my decision. Good luck and warm wishes to you.

      over 3 years ago
    • Beannie's Avatar

      I decided on lumpectomy (partial mastectomy as did not have palpable lump and I had to have reexcision to clear area) and radiation. I could not at this point decide to remove part of my body if there was a chance to save it. It would not have been the right decision for me. I am currently taking radiation treatments, I had no lymph node involvement so no chemo. If my situation had of been extreme enough to lean more towards mastectomy then I would have done so, but I could not choose to take the extreme option and I knew I would not have been able to take the other one off since there was no problem with it. I am happy to be able to look down and see my own breasts still there. I knew chance of reoccurrence could happen with mastectomy as well as lumpectomy, so after a lot of thought and discussion with my physician, I decided I would take my chances with lumpectomy and radiation and if reoccurance happens, I would just deal with it then. This is not an easy decision for a woman to have to make! But it is your decision and you have to do what makes you feel the best about your situation. Good Luck!!

      over 3 years ago
    • virginiab's Avatar

      I decided on lumpectomy. I prefer simple solutions that are no more invasive than necessary. The idea of radiation did not scare me (and it turned out to be pretty easy for me). Some years ago I had joint replacement surgery that did not heal properly without 6 months of continuing treatment and follow-up surgeries, so the idea of a big surgery seemed very unattractive to me! I also heard about all the subsequent surgeries that were common with reconstruction, and knew I didn't want to go down that path unless it was necessary to remove the whole breast to get rid of the cancer.

      I am very comfortable with my decision and happy to still have 2 breasts that not only look like my own but also have all the normal sensations of my natural breasts.

      I see many more postings by people who had more radical surgery, but bear in mind that many more women choose lumpectomy than mastectomy. Feel free to join us, if it seems right for you.

      over 3 years ago
    • suebo's Avatar

      I googled lumpectomy vs mastectomy and got tons of information -- most of which said the long term survival was about the same -- so I decided mastectomy was not necessary considering the research that was done.

      over 3 years ago
    • Julie99's Avatar

      Originally I had the option of either, then I got my BRCA-2 results which made it easy, bilateral mastectomy. I'm SO glad that is the option I went with. After my MRI, 2 other areas were questioned. One was negative from the biopsy and the other wasn't found with the ultrasound.
      After my bilateral, my original tumor was 2.5cm. The biopsy which was negative was 1cm and the one not found with the ultrasound was .6cm.
      But you have to do what is right and best for you.

      over 3 years ago
    • Xmom7's Avatar

      My Doctor and I chose a double lumpectomy. I had breast cancer in the left breast, the size of a pea, and calcium build up in the right, so had that removed as a precaution. No spreading to the lymph nodes. Had a recision 1 week later on left where they took more of the margin, and it was clear. No chemo. 20 rounds of radiation. Er and Pr + tamoxifen for the next 5 years. I feel really blessed that the cancer was found so early. The mammogram found it. Oncologist said it would have been possibly 2 years before I would have felt it, and the outcome would have been a lot different.

      over 3 years ago
    • Doberwomyn's Avatar

      My doctor recommended the lumpectomy, but the thing I have noticed is that the opinions are extremely varied by all--and I think also insurance comes into play. I would suggest that you get really clear on any recommendation by doctor and why. Also talk with others, and trust your instincts--also sleep on it --really ask for guidance as you drift off to sleep

      over 3 years ago
    • Quiltstitchsew's Avatar

      I had to make the same choice. I have lobular breast cancer which did not show on any mammograms. It was discovered because I had one huge lymph node and two other odd looking ones. I asked this group the same questions. Ultimately I chose the bilateral mastectomy. I don't regret it - they found lobular cancer in situ in the other breast. They also found 15 of 16 lymph nodes positive for cancer. I am currently mid way through radiation therapy and when finished, will take aromatase inhibitors. This was the first big surgery I ever had so the whole incision thing was strange. But my mantra is "It is what it is" I just go through every day focusing on the rest of my life, not just this episode. Good luck!

      over 3 years ago
    • grandmajean5's Avatar

      I had the option of either type of surgery and I chose lumpectomy because the tumor was shown to be 1.2cm. The lab report showed margins were not clear and the actual tumor was 3.1 cm but no lymph nodes involved so I was again given the option of a 2nd lumpectomy or mastectomy. My surgeon made me feel sure that the 2nd lumpectomy would be successful and I went for that. The oncotype dx test showed that the chance of recurrence would only be reduced by 5% so I am doing just radiation, 33 treatments, and hormone therapy. I still question my decision and if I had to do it again, I would go with the bilateral mastectomy so I wouldn't have to spend the next several years wondering if it will come back. But you have to do what is right for you.

      over 3 years ago
    • Diana60's Avatar

      The first surgeon said I had a choice of Lumpectomy, masectomy or double masectomy and to let him know when I had decided. The second surgeon said there was no need for anything more than a lumpectomy and internal radiation right after the surgery. I had DCIS found on a yearly mamo. Nothing had spred to the lymph glands. They did take 2 lymph glands at the time of surgery. My main concern was the expense. I didn't have the greatest insurance and wanted it done as cheeply as possible. I couldn't afford 6 to 8 weeks off work as my wages are needed to make ends meet. I have already decided that if I get a recourance after I am 65, I will have a double mastectomy as I don't like worrying that it will come back but I just could not afford to take off work and I don't have the insurance to pay for the added surgery. It is terrible when your health depends on how big your pay check is.

      over 3 years ago
    • jvbaseballmom2's Avatar

      I was told that I needed to have one breast removed, and I opted for a bilateral mastectomy. I'm a worrier, and I didn't want to have to worry every day whether cancer would occur in my other breast. I also wanted to be as proactive as possible. My son was 9 years old at the time of my diagnosis, and I wanted to do whatever I could to be around to see him mature into the young adult he is today. It's been 7 1/2 years, and I have never regretted my decision. I couldn't have done it without the support and love of my husband, friends, and family.

      over 3 years ago
    • Nomadicme's Avatar

      There are hundreds of medical publications in reputed journals, both out of Europe and North America, showing that survival is the same whether the woman has a mastectomy or a lumpectomy. Best practice is breast conservation surgery. Why would you want needless operations for the same outcome?

      My personal experience, I was floored when told I had to,have a mastectomy, and then just opted for both breasts to,be done. I'm,not happy with the outcome of my reconstruction, even though I'm told my reconstruction worked well (I have profile, had no skin issues).

      over 3 years ago
    • nonnie917's Avatar

      I use to always think to myself, "What would I do if I got breast cancer even though it doesn't run in the family?" I was a DDD and diagnosed with non-infiltrating DCIS. A lumpectomy was what I was looking at until I saw the surgeon. The dumb *&^%*& radiologist who read my mammogram report missed a spot in the 5:30 position of my right breast and I had spots at 1 and 2:00 in that breast. That is when the surgeon suggested I have and MRI because the radiologist never returned his call. So I had it done and the MRI found 2 clusters in the left breast. When he told me I had to have a triple MRI guided biopsy that is when I made my decision for a double mastectomy. I did not want to live my life worrying that the cancer was going to pop up again somewhere else in what was left of the breasts. It is really is a personal decision on your part and now you feel about all the information that is out there, but DEFINITELY get a second opinion before making your decision. Good luck.

      over 3 years ago
    • SandiD's Avatar

      For me, the odds were almost the same for either surgery, so lumpectomy seemed less invasive to me. I also did chemo and radiation. Mastectomy does not 100% remove the odds of cancer returning. I think it may up the up the odds a little, but it just takes 1 cancer cell to come back someday. So I am diligent about all my checkups. I am 4 years out from diagnosis now. This was my second cancer. I wish you the very best. I wish we didn't have to choose! It is scary, but I feel good about my decision.

      over 3 years ago
    • gwendolyn's Avatar

      My surgeon felt he could get clean margins either way and I knew I was getting chemo and radiation either way due to large size and high grade of tumor. My decision to have mastectomy was related to the fact that the lumpectomy would have involved removing about half the breast anyway. Personally, I could see any advantage to keeping half a breast.

      over 3 years ago
    • Tania's Avatar

      This is a good questiona and very personal. I am a breast cancer survior of 4 years and a high risk due to the fact that my mother and her sister are breast cancer surviors. I had surgery and afterwards the doctor told me I had to go back for a mastectomy that hit me hard and I went to the University of Miami Sylvester Cancer Center and my doctor told me I could have a lumpectomy I did not need a mastectomy. I do spend twice a year at the doctors for follow up but my mom had a lumpectomy for 11 years and she is fine her sister did have a mastectomy and is fine too. I am happy with the choice I made. There is no garanteee in life. It's a personal decision talk to your doctor and family. Please keep me posted and I wish you the best. Hugs, from Miami, Florida (Tania)

      over 3 years ago

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