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Though radical mastectomy was a common procedure a generation ago, it is rarely performed today, and is now typically only required in cases where there are extensive tumors or the cancer has spread to the chest wall muscle. Immediate breast reconstruction (during mastectomy) may still be an option, or women can choose post mastectomy breast reconstruction (delayed breast reconstruction).
In a radical mastectomy, the entire breast is removed, including the skin, nipple and areola, lymph nodes, the chest wall muscles under the breast, and some of the surrounding fatty tissue. Only enough skin to close the incision is left, and a scar, typically 6-8 inches long, results.
In most cases, modified radical mastectomy has proven to be as effective as radical mastectomy, and is considerably less invasive.
Without breast reconstruction, a radical mastectomy may be completed in approximately two hours and usually requires a hospital stay of one to two days – your personal treatment plan will be determined by your surgeon.