Breast Cancer Mastectomy: 5 Questions to Ask Your Doctor

If you are considering a breast cancer mastectomy, you probably have a lot of questions. This treatment for breast cancer is a major surgery, and it’s important that you feel fully educated and comfortable. Read on to see 5 questions you should ask your doctor and any other members of your health care team about a breast cancer mastectomy.

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Will I Need Other Types of Treatment Before or After Breast Cancer Mastectomy?

Depending on your type and stage of cancer and other factors, your breast cancer team may recommend breast cancer treatments in addition to surgery, or before it. For example, your breast cancer team may recommend:

  • Chemotherapy
  • Targeted therapy
  • Anti-hormone therapy
  • Radiation

Understanding your full treatment plan and knowing what to expect is important. If your plan includes additional therapies, make sure your breast cancer center offers all the treatments you need. For example, the Breast Health Center at Loma Linda University Cancer Center provides the full-spectrum of multi-disciplinary care in one convenient location. Knowing your breast cancer center can handle all your needs can make treatment more seamless and less stressful.

In short, learn as much as possible about the surgery. Understanding the details of your breast cancer mastectomy will help you better prepare.

Find a location near you

Loma Linda University Cancer Center
11234 Anderson St., Suite A600, Loma Linda, CA 92354
909-558-2262
Loma Linda University Health – Beaumont – Banning
Oncology
81 South Highland Springs Ave., Suite 201, Beaumont, CA 92223
909-558-2262
Loma Linda University Health – Beaumont – Banning
Radiation Oncology
81 South Highland Springs Ave., Suite 105, Beaumont, CA 92223
800-496-4966
Loma Linda University Professional Office Building – Murrieta
Oncology Nurse Navigator
28078 Baxter Rd., Suite 130, Murrieta, CA 92563
951-290-4148
Loma Linda University Professional Office Building – Murrieta
Radiation Oncology
28078 Baxter Rd., Suite 130, Murrieta, CA 92563
951-290-4162
Loma Linda University Professional Office Building – Murrieta
Women's Diagnostic Imaging Center
28078 Baxter Rd., Suite 220, Murrieta, CA 92563
951-290-4860
Loma Linda University Professional Office Building – Murrieta
Faculty Surgical Oncology Medical Offices
28078 Baxter Rd., Suite 510, Murrieta, CA 92563
909-558-2262
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What Should I Expect from Breast Cancer Mastectomy?

Your surgeon should explain your breast cancer mastectomy in detail, including what type of mastectomy will be performed,and what the options for reconstruction are should you desire it. In addition they will discuss if and how any lymph nodes will be removed. Ask about the benefits and risks of each mastectomy and which one is right for you:

  • A total mastectomy involves removing the entire breast.
  • Skin-sparing mastectomy saves the breast skin to aid in reconstruction.
  • Nipple-sparing mastectomy salvages both the breast skin and nipple for a more natural reconstruction.

In addition to details about the type of breast cancer mastectomy your surgeon will perform, you may also want to ask:

  • How is the surgery performed?
  • What anesthesia will be used?
  • Will this be an outpatient surgery?
  • What risks are involved?

In short, learn as much as possible about the surgery. Understanding the details of your breast cancer mastectomy will help you better prepare.

What Should I Know About Recovery from a Breast Cancer Mastectomy?

Recovery from breast cancer mastectomy is different for everyone. But it helps if you can plan ahead as much as possible. Here are a few questions you may consider asking:

  • What potential complications should I watch for?
  • What can I expect in the days and weeks after surgery?
  • Will I need to care for wounds or drainage tubes?
  • What activities can and can’t I do?
  • When will I be back to normal activities?

The Breast Health Center at Loma Linda University Cancer Center offers the most advanced technology in the Inland Empire, enabling us to detect breast cancer earlier and more accurately.

Understanding the recovery process can help you prepare your home for post surgery recovery, including lining up support services and help with daily tasks. Knowing you have support when you come home after your surgery l can put your mind at ease and help recovery go as smoothly as possible.

Am I a Candidate for Reconstruction After Breast Cancer Mastectomy?

Some women who have a breast cancer mastectomy opt to have breast reconstruction and others do not. It’s a personal choice. Talking about reconstruction options down the line with your breast surgeon, and getting connected to a plastic surgeon can help you make that decision. Sometimes, reconstruction can begin at the same time as the breast cancer mastectomy.

At the Breast Health Center, breast cancer surgeons coordinate closely with plastic surgeons to provide appropriate patients with immediate breast reconstruction. Ask what reconstruction options are available to you based on your breast cancer mastectomy and follow-up treatment.

Patient navigators are registered nurses trained in oncology care to guide you through the challenges of dealing with cancer. They are here to support you as you go through diagnosis, treatment and recovery. Contact the Patient Navigator team at 800-782-2623.

How Can I Live My Best Life After Breast Cancer Mastectomy?

Take charge of your health and make a plan of how you will live a full life after your breast cancer mastectomy. Ask your surgeon what treatment options are available to help reduce the risk of recurrence. Inquire about resources that can help you minimize symptoms of treatment. And learn how you will receive follow-up care. A great breast cancer care team will typically provide you with all this information, but it’s also important to go to appointments with your own questions for your own peace of mind.

The Breast Health Center understands how breast cancer can impact every aspect of life. And we offer a host of support services right here in the Inland Empire—from nutritionists and physical therapists to counselors and support groups. Take advantage of available services so you can reduce stress, recover well and begin life after breast cancer mastectomy.