surgery options


I was diagnosed with bc in Dec last year. Since then I’ve had 5 cycles of FEC with the 6th coming up on Friday 2nd May. My surgery date is 30th May. Up until last week I had been advised that I’d have a lumpectomy if the tumour got small enough (it has) with full lymph node clearance. At the surgery planning meeting last week I was told I could have a mastectomy if I preferred (not sure if reconstruction would be at the same time or not). My bc Nurse advised me that having a mastectomy would reduce the risk of recurrence by half i.e. 0.5% per year from 1% if I have a lumpectomy. I need to make a decision but I’m finding it hard. I’ve spoken to friends and relatives about it (none have had bc) but they just tell me what they’d do if it were them. I’d love to hear from women who’ve been faced with the same dilemma or anyone who has had surgery already.

Love Ginge x

Hi Ginge

Hard decision but for me I chaose Mastectomy as they had thought my lump to be benign so when it turned out to be grade 3 I decided that rather them go in to get clear margins I would have the whole thing gone. Its a very personal choice and one I am very happy to have made. No regrets, and I know that all the cancer has gone.

Please feel free to ask any more questions I am sure your head is in a spin already.

Good luck

P xx

Hi Ginge

I was supposed to have a mastectomy (left) and lumpectomy (right) tommorow but my blood count is too low so it has been put back to next week. Anyway, at one of the meetings with the surgeon I asked if it might be better if I had a mastectomy on the right aswell seeing as I had already started with bc (7mm) on that side also. He said with all the treatment I had already had (6 chemo) and the treatment I was gonna have (surgery, radiotherapy and tamoxifen) the outcome will be as if I’d had a mastectomy anyway and he’s sure they can sort it with a lumpectomy. He’s always “given it to me straight” so I’m more than happy to go along with him on this one aswell.

I would speak to your surgeon and ask him about the risks of recurrance, and the pros and cons of both surgeries and if you’ve already spoken to him about it, speak to him again and don’t rush into making a decision. I know you can’t hang about but you need to get all the info you can to help you come to the right one, and keep asking questions no matter how trivial or silly they might seem to you.

Please remember that you are not alone and that there is always someone ready to listen and help in any way they can. The ladies on the BCC helpline are wonderfull if you ever want to ring them.

Best wishes
Sue x

hi ginge sorry your facing such an anxious time, i too had the choice between lumpectomy and mascetomy, i chose the first option. unfortunetly after they examined the tissue, i needed further surgery 3 weeks later (i was upset to put it midly) but that doesnt mean you will be unlucky, yours seems different, because you have had chemo first.
what you have to ask yourself is “will you be prepared to have 2nd op if need be” but i can understand you wanting to try and keep your breast ( i was the same)
one thing, i will say if you do try lumpectomy, and then go for mastectomy, i found the second op was quick to get over.
nobody can make this decision for you, (shame isnt it) but i hope you dont worry too much, i tried to focus on each day, and live life normally, not looking too far ahead. may god give you the strength you need love and best wishes

Hi Ginge

I has a lumpectomy on the understanding that if there wasn’t a clear margin the surgeon would go back and do a ‘grazing’ around the original site and if this wasn’t successful then it would be a mastectomy. I think I was lucky as the position of the lump was 12 o’clock high up in the breast and this was a factor in the type of surgery I was offered. Fortunately my surgeon removed the whole tumour in one swoop and I don’t need further surgery just chemo and rads.

I too would ask your surgeon and bc nurse for your best options - and If I was told it was to be a full mastectomy then I would accept that as they know best.

Good luck in your decision.

Anita xxx

Hello again ladies,

Thanks for all your kind and helpful comments. Still trying to decide best option, I wing from lumpectomy to mastectomy from day to day! Definitely need to speak to BC Nurse again as have a long list of questions now!

Paula, did you have chemo 1st of after surgery?

Sue, hope all goes really well next week x

Hi Ginge

They took the lump first as they thought it was benign. Only after that did they discover it to be cancer so no option of chemo first. It was approx 26mm so not too big !!

Good luck with that decision, make sure you are happy with whatever you decide and whats best for you.!! Very personal choice.!!


P x

Hi all
I am facing the same kind of decision. I finish my chemo in four weeks my 4.5cm x 3.5cm lump has shrunk to nothing, can’t even be found on ultrasound. From word go I have wanted mastectomy, but have now been given the choice as long as the radiographer can acurately pinpoint the position of the original tumour, of a lumpectomy, but I don’t want to have to go back for a second op so am still inclined to the mastectomy and get it all over with. In fact I want the other one off at the same time if at all possible, had a brush with DCIS in 2004 so I feel it would tidy things up, so to speak. But now the time is getting closer I really am not sure what I want any more, chemo brain doesn’t help either!
Godd luck to those who have made their decisions

hi all i was originally having a wle but the scan showed further cancer so I opted for a mastectomy last october anda lumpectomy in the other breast I too did mention that if there was a chance the other would be dodgy to take that too but I was assured not I had an expander fitted and that removed in Jan and my perm implant in just waiting for a nipple Iknow i made the right choice for me …i just wanted it all out !!!

good luck to all of you
maz xx

Hi ladies,

Thank you for all your helpful posts.

I have another question; how much did any of you take into account your husbands/partners views and did this influence your final decision?

Ginge xxx

Hi Ginge
Mu hubby is definitely a boob man, but he told me that whatever is right for me will be OK by him. I am not my boobs and he loves me anyway! At the moment, two more chemos then surgery, that is a momentous task for him as I am in a really shitty mood most of the time, snap his head off and am as bald as a coot and don’t wear anything on my head around the house any more as it’s more comfy. He understands I am frightened and am trying to make a big decision on what comes next and is trying to be as supportive as he can be, but then we’ve been married for 41 years so if he doesn’t know me by now he never will. He told me if I have a double mastectomy, which is what I want if the surgeon agrees, it is OK by him as long as I am fit and well and happy that is all that counts. I think even if he didn’t agree with my final decision I would still go ahead with what I wanted, after all it is my life and my body. I had DCIS and a WLE in my left breast in 2004 and now have full blot Invasive ductal carcinoma in my right breast, so that is why I want to be rid of both of them, they have left me down.
Don’t know if this helps at all, but good luck in making your decision.


Hi Nonny,

What you’ve shared does help. Think my hubby is also a bit of a boob man. When I discuss options with him he seems keen for me to keep as much of my boob as possible and talks about going private if necessary for a reconstruction (my hospital won’t reconstruct after lumpectomy).

Like you, I’m a bear with a sore head at times and felt so frustrated last night I nearly tore a door off it’s hinges! I know only I can make the final decision but at the same time I worry about how surgery will affect our relationship.

Will you have reconstructive work done?

Love, Ginge x

Hi Ginge
I have decided not to have reconstruction. I don’t like the look of the scars if you have it done with your own tissue and I think implants look really unnatural, but that is purely my own personal view. Also if you have one boob off and reconstructed they often have to operate on the other one to get them equal looking. I want to have the choice to go flat chested if I want or wear a bra with two prosthesis if I want a bust. I am 61 and I don’t know if my age makes me less worried about my appearance, I think if I was younger maybe 30s or 40s I may wel feel differently.
Don’t know if this is any help to you. I got some really good booklets from the Breast Cancer Care site all about mastectomy and reconstruction, they are free and really helped me make up my mind. They may be of help to your and your hubby.
I know what a difficult choice it is and I have yet to face my surgeon with what I want to do, that could well be abother fight!
Keep in touch.
Love Nonny

Hi Ginge

I had a mastectomy last week and I wasn’t really given the choice so that was that. But since having it done I don’t think I will be having a reconstruction. My boobs were my best bits really I thought and my hubby loved them but when we talked of reconstruction I told him that I probably won’t consider it as I don’t feel it necessary to put myself through was is another major op and he said if I were to think about it he would try to talk me out of it. So that settled it for me. I can understand if you are younger (I’m 44 been married 25 years) It is a very personal thing.

Good luck in your choice, try not to worry too much

Best wishes
Debs x