Skip to Content
We welcome visitors to our care settings while they’re wearing masks. View our updated visitor guidelines.

Health Encyclopedia

Mastectomy

« Previous Page En Español

Mastectomy

A mastectomy is surgery to remove a whole breast. It is used to treat breast cancer. A total (or simple) mastectomy removes only the breast. Other types of mastectomy may involve removing the breast plus nearby tissues, such as lymph nodes under the arm. This may be needed if cancer has spread to these areas. In some cases, it may be possible to leave most of the skin that was over the breast (skin-sparing mastectomy) or the skin plus the nipple and areola (nipple-sparing mastectomy).

If a person has a very high risk of getting breast cancer, the breasts may be removed before cancer is diagnosed. This is called a prophylactic mastectomy. It can help prevent breast cancer.

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated, disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. Learn how we develop our content.

© 1995-2022 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated, disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. Learn how we develop our content.