Most men only have a small amount of breast tissue, so the most common operation involves taking away all of the breast tissue and the nipple. This is called a mastectomy. You will usually have some or all of the lymph nodes removed from the armpit during this operation.
Occasionally the surgeon may be able to remove only the area of the cancer with some surrounding normal-looking tissue. This operation is called a wide local excision and for some men it may mean that they keep their nipple. It may also be referred to as a lumpectomy.
After this operation, the pathologist examines the tissue that’s been removed to see if there is an area of normal cells around the cancer. This is called a clear margin. If there are still cancer cells at the edge of the removed breast tissue, you’ll need to have a mastectomy.
Before your operation, your surgeon will talk to you about the type of operation that is recommended for you.
Your surgeon or breast care nurse will talk to you about how your chest will look after your surgery. They may show you photographs of other men who have had breast surgery or put you in touch with someone who has been through it. Or you can contact a support group or Breast Cancer Care.