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International Journal of Surgical Oncology
Volume 2011, Article ID 980158, 7 pages
Research Article

The Changing Face of Mastectomy (from Mutilation to Aid to Breast Reconstruction)

1Division of Senology, European Institute of Oncology, 20141 Milan, Italy
2School of Medicine, University of Milan, 20141 Milan, Italy
3Division of Plastic Surgery, European Institute of Oncology, 20141 Milan, Italy

Received 22 December 2010; Accepted 10 February 2011

Academic Editor: Anees B. Chagpar

Copyright © 2011 Stefano Zurrida et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women. Primary treatment is surgery, with mastectomy as the main treatment for most of the twentieth century. However, over that time, the extent of the procedure varied, and less extensive mastectomies are employed today compared to those used in the past, as excessively mutilating procedures did not improve survival. Today, many women receive breast-conserving surgery, usually with radiotherapy to the residual breast, instead of mastectomy, as it has been shown to be as effective as mastectomy in early disease. The relatively new skin-sparing mastectomy, often with immediate breast reconstruction, improves aesthetic outcomes and is oncologically safe. Nipple-sparing mastectomy is newer and used increasingly, with better acceptance by patients, and again appears to be oncologically safe. Breast reconstruction is an important adjunct to mastectomy, as it has a positive psychological impact on the patient, contributing to improved quality of life.