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Mastectomy Total (Radical)

Underlying Problem Requiring a Total Mastectomy:
A mastectomy is a medical procedure in which one or both breasts are either partially or completely removed surgically. In most cases, this is done to remove malignant tumors caused by breast cancer. Some patients will choose to have a \"prophylactic\" total mastectomy. That is to say, the patient opts to have both breasts removed due to a high risk of breast cancer. The intention is to avoid the disease altogether. A total mastectomy may be indicated in situations where the patient has already undergone radiation, where there are multiple areas of cancer within the same breast, who are pregnant, and who have had lumpectomies that did not result in eradication of the cancer.

A \"total mastectomy\" is also called a \"simple mastectomy\". It is referred to as a total mastectomy because the entire breast is removed. In this case, most of the lymph nodes are left intact, with the possible exception of the sentinel lymph node. A tube may be inserted to allow for drainage and suction of fluids, but this will typically be removed after several days. This is a potential option for those who wish to have a mastectomy in order to prevent cancer.

A radical mastectomy is one where all of the breast tissue is removed, as are the lymph nodes and the pectoral muscles. Currently, doctors are more likely to perform a modified radical mastectomy, wherein the pectoral muscles are not removed.

Recovery from a Total Mastectomy:
Patients who have undergone a total mastectomy will generally remain in the hospital anywhere from two to ten days. They will learn to change dressings and care for the incision. This includes watching for any signs of infection and bringing them to the doctor\'s attention. Pain medication will be prescribed, as well.

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