Lumpectomy vs Mastectomy

Two days before I had surgery to remove a malignant tumor from my breast, I had a panic attack. I didn’t know whether to have a mastectomy or a lumpectomy.

Two days before I had surgery to remove a malignant tumor from my breast, I had a panic attack. I didn't know whether to have a mastectomy or a lumpectomy. My doctor wanted to do a lumpectomy, but I have friends who have lived through this awful decision and chose to have a mastectomy. Research shows that lumpectomy plus radiation...My doctor wanted to do a lumpectomy, but I have friends who have lived through this awful decision and chose to have a mastectomy.

Research shows that lumpectomy plus radiation to treat women diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer offers the same survival rates as a mastectomy. However, a lumpectomy has a slightly higher risk of recurrent cancer.

Still, some women who’ve been diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer in one breast choose to have that breast and the other healthy breast removed because of the fear that a new, second breast cancer might develop in that breast.

Earlier studies suggest that more women, especially younger women diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer in one breast, choose to have the breast affected by cancer and the other healthy breast removed. They can then have reconstructive surgery, and insurance covers it.

A woman may also choose to have a mastectomy because of an abnormal BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene. Having one of these abnormal genes dramatically increases a woman’s lifetime risk of breast and ovarian cancer.

If you have cancer in your family, you can talk with your doctor or oncologist about a referral to someone in genetics about your risk of breast cancer.

I asked my husband what he thought I should do, and he said, “Honey, this is a decision you will have to make. It is your body, and I will love you and be there for you all the way.”

Being diagnosed with breast cancer is a journey I never thought I would be taking. The biopsy report showed a malignant tumor that was not yet very big, so having a mastectomy to remove my entire breast was a little overwhelming for me.

I know many women who chose a lumpectomy, went through radiation and hormone therapy, and the cancer has never returned. I also know women who had the lumpectomy and later had to have a mastectomy.

With the information I had, I was willing to take that chance.

During the lumpectomy, the goal was to remove the malignant tumor and a few lymph nodes to determine if the cancer had already begun to spread.

My surgery day started in radiology, where I had a surgical procedure called a sentinel node biopsy. With this procedure, the pathologist can see whether cancer has spread beyond the primary tumor into my lymphatic system.

The sentinel nodes are the first few lymph nodes into which a tumor drains. The biopsy involved injecting a tracer material that helped the surgeon locate the sentinel nodes during the lumpectomy later that morning. My doctor removed three sentinel nodes and sent them to the laboratory to be analyzed.

It was almost two weeks before my follow up appointment. Yes, my breast was very sore, and not knowing if the cancer had spread was scary, but I’ve trusted God for my life since I was nine years old when I gave my heart to Christ.

Since then, I have walked through many painful and devastating times, including my husband and I tragically losing our youngest daughter. I have felt alone at times, but I’ve always known I wasn’t.

In the weeks of waiting, I was blessed with family and friends checking on me and sending me beautiful words of encouragement.

A few days before the follow-up appointment, I decided to go to the hospital and ask for a copy of the surgery’s pathology report. I sat down alone in the cafeteria and held my breath while I read the information.

It was good news, and I couldn’t wait to get home to my husband and call our children. The report showed no malignant lymph nodes, and the surgeon had removed all of the malignant tumor, leaving clear margins around the removal site.

I didn’t understand everything in the report, but when I went in to see my doctor, I was able to ask questions. I felt more peaceful because I had done my homework and was able to have a more productive conversation with her about what she found and the next steps in my journey.

Every step is important to recovery. My next appointment with an oncologist and a radiology oncologist will help create a plan to lower the cancer’s recurrence.

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Deana Landers
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I have had many roles in life
Pastor’s Wife , Mom/Nana , Nurse/Health Educator, Writer , Christian Speaker
I can't remember a time when I wasn't writing stories, either in my head or in my journal.

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Story Comments

  1. Julie -

    I am so glad that everything was positive for you and thank you for sharing! God is great! I, too, wrestled with this decision-lumpectomy vs mastectomy. My cancer was invasive lobular carcinoma found on a screening MRI. My mammogram was normal but I had very dense tissue, fortunately my state law is that they have to recommend a MRI in cases like mine and insurance must cover it. The cancer was very small-4 mm. I elected for a partial mastectomy. The pathology revealed 3 (3 mm) more areas of cancer, not revealed on the MRI. Fortunately, no lymph node involvement. At this point, a major concern was what else in there, since the other spots were not on the images. Lobular carcinoma does not appear obvious on any image means. I opted at that point for bilateral mastectomies. Again, God was good to me as no further cancer was found and no lymph node involvement. There were cells present, however that would indicate there was a higher risk for more breast cancer, so I do not for a minute, regret my decision. So, no chemo or radiation, will be on the estrogen reducing drugs for 5 years. Morale of the story is, do not brush off if they tell you that your breast tissue is dense on a mammogram- those cancers can be hidden in it. Please pray for all women going through this, especially those without a great support system(I was blessed beyond measure in this case) and pray for better detection modules and cures. God’s blessings to you.

    • Deana Landers -

      Julie, thank you so much for sharing your story with me. I am so glad that you were able to pursue the dense tissue to identify cancer before it spread further. I write a lot about cancer, breast cancer especially. I would love to use your story to help and encourage others. Thank you for reading and commenting.Sincerely,Deana Landers

  2. Thank you for sharing this journey, Deana! I'm so grateful for your news!! You've been in my prayers. Continued health my friend!

    • Deana Landers -

      Thank you, Lori, for your comment and prayers. Sharing this journey for me is part of the healing process. I knew very little when I began and I hope what I have learned will help others.Deana

  3. That is great news that there is no malignant nodes, it must have been a very difficult time for you and your family. So sorry to hear about the loss of your daughter. You will be in my prayers. Take care. Xxx

    • Deana Landers -

      Thank you, Anita, for reading and commenting on my stories. Deana

  4. Wishing you well. My sister went through it. She had a lumpectomy. She's doing well now. Good luck to you.

    • Deana Landers -

      Thank you, Doreen, for reading and commenting on my story. I am so glad your sister is doing well. Deana

  5. Maria -

    You are amazing lady and I love your positive attitude and I will keep you in my prayers. I have so many other friends who are going through this some opt for what you did. Keep sharing your inspiring and courageous posts’

    • Deana Landers -

      Maria, thank you for sending this encouraging note. And thank you for your sweet prayers, my friend. Deana

  6. I'm so happy to hear that there were no malignant lymph nodes. My best friend opted to have the mastectomy and now we play the waiting game so she can start chemo. Sadly the hospitals over on this side of the world are still keeping beds free for Covid patients, so the waiting game may be a long one. Sending much love and you're always in my thoughts.

    • Deana Landers -

      Thank you, Michelle. I hope your friend doesn't have to wait too long. Waiting is the hardest part. Love ya my friendDeana

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