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Tumours suitable for mastectomy

Last reviewed dd mmm yyyy. Last edited dd mmm yyyy

Authoring team

The tumours best treated with mastectomy include:

  • patient preference:
    • small tumours may be amenable to conservative treatment, but the patient may have a strong feeling that mastectomy will provide more peace of mind
    • patient may prefer to avoid radiotherapy with its attendant complications
  • size of tumour:
    • tumours greater than 2-3cm in small breasts; generally, removal of masses greater than this size results in a cosmetic defect that is unacceptable
    • in larger breasts, masses up to 4cm have been treated with breast conservation with little aesthetic deficit and what is believed to be little influence on prognosis
  • those with clinical or radiographic evidence of more than one tumour:
    • more prevalent with lobular carcinoma
    • multifocal disease:
      • presence of synchronous tumour within the the same quadrant
      • increases with increasing primary tumour size
      • widespread multifocal disease is probably best treated with mastectomy
    • multicentric disease: presence of synchronous tumour outside of the same quadrant
  • poor tumour differentiation

  • centrally-located tumours:
    • often difficult to excise by conservative measures without poor cosmesis due to loss of nipple
    • many women prefer mastectomy to simple conservation if the nipple will be lost by both techniques

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