Surgery for breast cancer

Most people begin their breast cancer treatment with surgery. There are different types of surgery for breast cancer, these include :

  • breast conserving surgery (lumpectomy or wide local excision)
  • surgery to remove your breast (mastectomy)
  • surgery to the lymph nodes Open a glossary item 
  • surgery to make a new breast (breast reconstruction)

Find out more about each type breast surgery, how to prepare for an operation and what to expect afterwards.

Types of breast cancer surgery

There are different types of surgery for breast cancer, including mastectomy, breast conserving surgery (lumpectomy), lymph node removal and breast reconstruction. Find out about each of these. 

Breast conserving surgery (lumpectomy)

This is an operation to remove the area of cancer and some of the surrounding breast tissue. It's also called a wide local excision or lumpectomy. Find out more about this breast cancer surgery.

Mastectomy - surgery to remove your breast

A mastectomy is surgery to remove all of the breast. Find our why you might have one, when to you might have breast reconstruction or why you may choose not to. We also have information about what happens.  

Choosing between breast conserving surgery (lumpectomy) or mastectomy

Depending on your situation you might have a choice of operations to consider. Or your surgeon might recommend that you have a particular operation. Find out about some of the advantages and disadvantages between these surgeries. 

Breast reconstruction

There are different types of surgery to make a new breast shape after removal of breast cancer. Read about the different types of breast reconstruction, benefits and possible problems.

Surgery to remove lymph nodes from your armpit

It is important to know if there are cancer cells in the lymph nodes in the armpit and how many. This helps the doctors work out the stage of your cancer and plan the best treatment for you.

Before your operation for breast cancer

Before your operation for breast cancer you have tests to check your fitness and you meet members of your treatment team. Find out what happens before you operation.

On the day of breast cancer surgery

On the day of your breast surgery you will need to stop eating for several hours beforehand surgery. Find out what else happens before you go to theatre for your breast surgery. 

After breast cancer surgery

Read about what happens after breast surgery, exercises you need to do, and how to cope with possible problems.

Last reviewed: 
30 Jun 2023
Next review due: 
30 Jun 2026