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Breast Health Center
668 Eddy Street
Providence, RI 02903
P: (401) 274-1122, ext. 47300
P: (401) 453-7540

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Most patients with breast cancer have surgery to remove the cancer from the breast; some lymph nodes under the arm are usually taken out at the same time and examined under a microscope to determine if they contain cancer cells.

Breast Conserving Surgery

Breast conserving surgery removes the cancer but not the breast itself, either through a lumpectomy (surgical removal of the tumor and a small amount of normal tissue around it), a quadrantectomy (removal of about one quarter of the breast tissue) or a partial mastectomy (surgery to remove the part of the breast that has the cancer and some normal tissue around it). Surgeons at Women & Infants are trained in the most advanced oncoplastic surgery techniques for removing the cancerous tissue while also reforming the breast into a normal shape.

Total Mastectomy

Total mastectomy is surgery to remove the breast containing cancer.

Modified Radical Mastectomy

Modified radical mastectomy is surgery to remove the whole breast containing cancer, many of the lymph nodes under the arm, the lining over the chest muscles and, sometimes, part of the chest wall muscles.

Radical Mastectomy

Radical mastectomy is surgical removal of both breasts; if this is done when there is no cancer present but genetic testing indicates the woman has a higher risk of developing breast cancer in her lifetime, it is called a prophylactic mastectomy.

Axillary Lymph Node Dissection

If a biopsy shows that the breast cancer has spread outside the milk duct, the surgeon will remove 10 to 40 lymph nodes from under the arm during a lumpectomy or mastectomy surgery to check if the cancer spread.

Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy

This is often done to check the lymph nodes for cancer without removing as many of them; the surgeon finds and removes the first, or sentinel, node to check for tumor drainage.

Breast Reconstruction Surgery

Breast reconstruction surgery is the rebuilding of the breast after a mastectomy or lumpectomy; this can take place at the same time as the surgery to remove the cancer using a technique called oncoplastic surgery, or later.

From the minute you hear the word “cancer,” we are here to help you in this part of your life. Learn more about the Program in Women's Oncology at Women & Infants Hospital

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Radiation therapy

This uses high-energy rays to kill cancer cells. The radiation dose is concentrated and the energy is about a thousand times greater than what the body receives from a regular x-ray. The energy damages multiplying cells and can penetrate deeply into the body to reach the tumor. The radiation can be delivered in different ways:

  • It can be combined with surgery or chemotherapy.
  • It can be used to prevent recurrence.
  • It can be used as a palliative treatment, both for defined tumors and tumors that have spread.

This uses medication to kill cancer cells. The medication is injected into your vein through an intravenous tube. This is usually given every three weeks on an outpatient basis.