It is helpful to think about the possible advantages and disadvantages of each operation before you make a decision.

Making treatment decisions

A breast-conserving surgery and a mastectomy work equally well in treating DCIS. This means your surgeon and specialist nurse may ask you to decide which type of surgery you feel is right for you.

Your surgeon and specialist nurse can explain what is involved and any possible side effects of each treatment. They will help you decide on the treatment that is best for you.

Having breast surgery can affect many areas of your life, including your body image, sex life and relationships. It is important to take your time and have all the information you need to make the right decision.

It is helpful to think about the possible advantages and disadvantages of each type of surgery before making a decision.

Breast-conserving surgery and radiotherapy

Advantages

  • It aims to keep most of your breast tissue and a good breast shape.
  • You may recover faster than with a mastectomy and have a lower risk of complications.

Disadvantages

  • You may need more than one operation to get clear margins.
  • You need at least 3 weeks of radiotherapy after surgery (some women will also need radiotherapy after a mastectomy).
  • Radiotherapy has short-term side effects, and some women may have long-term side effects.

Mastectomy

Advantages

  • You may not need radiotherapy after a mastectomy. But some women will need it. Ask your cancer doctor about this.
  • You may feel less worried after the operation because the breast tissue has been removed.

Disadvantages

  • You lose your breast permanently.
  • It may take longer to recover after having a mastectomy, and there is a slightly higher risk of complications.
  • It changes your appearance, which may affect your confidence, sex life and relationships.
  • If you want breast reconstruction afterwards, you need a longer operation and possibly more surgery. But, reconstruction may help to reduce disadvantages.

Your doctors and specialist nurse can answer any questions you may have and tell you what to expect. They may be able to show you photographs of other women who have had surgery.

Talking to other women who have already had surgery can also help. Your specialist nurse may know whether there is a local support group, where you can talk to someone who has had a similar operation.

You may also be able to find women in a similar situation on our Online Community or at the Breast Cancer Care online forum.

How we can help

Macmillan Cancer Support Line
The Macmillan Support Line offers confidential support to people living with cancer and their loved ones. If you need to talk, we'll listen.
0808 808 00 00
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Online Community
An anonymous network of people affected by cancer which is free to join. Share experiences, ask questions and talk to people who understand.
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What's going on near you? Find out about support groups, where to get information and how to get involved with Macmillan where you live.