Mastectomy (breast removal) and lumpectomy with radiation (breast preservation) are equally effective alternatives for treating most women with breast cancer.
These two treatment options are equivalent in terms of both survival rate and likelihood that cancer will return, even for invasive breast cancer which has spread to the lymph nodes. Many women are surprised to learn that cancer can recur at the surgical site even if they choose to have their breast removed.
About 75% of women are candidates for breast preservation. To find out what treatment options are available to you, you should consult with a surgeon experienced in breast preservation therapy, as well as a radiation oncologist.
The National Cancer Institute has issued a statement indicating that the lumpectomy with radiation is the preferred treatment for most women with breast cancer. Your health care providers can help guide your decision by answering questions, but if your surgeon determines that you are medically eligible for either treatment, the ultimate decision should be yours.