Frequently Asked Questions on Women's Health

What is a mastectomy?
A mastectomy is an operation to remove the breast. Total mastectomy is the standard operation today for most breast cancers. In this the chest walls are not removed like it was done earlier. The simple mastectomy involves complete removal of the breast but not the lymph nodes under the arms or the chest wall muscles. The lymph nodes and chest wall muscles are removed only in rare cases.
What is lumpectomy?
Lumpectomy is the removal of a portion of the breast with the tumor and not the whole breast, unlike in mastectomy. Also the surrounding margin of breast tissues are removed.
What is the next course of action after a biopsy?
If the biopsy is positive then your oncologist will suggest surgery immediately. This would then be followed by radiation and chemotherapy as per the level of seriousness of the disease.
How does a doctor know the tumor is cancerous?
Through biopsy. This is the removal of a sample of tissue from the concerned area of the body. This tissue is then examined under a microscope.
Can I lead a normal life after a lumpectomy or mastectomy?
Yes, you can with help from both your doctor and family. What you have undergone need not necessarily be life-threatening. You have to learn to adjust with changes in your body. Having a part of or whole breast removed should not be agonizing for you any more since there are many devices that could make you feel whole again. Post lumpectomy products include shapers and shell forms to provide optimal breast symmetry.
Post mastectomy products, there are bras, breast forms, enhancers, gowns, camisoles, swimwear and more.
When the oncologist says I need chemotherapy, what does he mean? And when will that be done?
Chemotherapy is a drug treatment which is used to try and kill cancer cells or stop them from spreading, The chemotherapy you are given will not necessarily be the same as given to another person because each case will require different drugs. This treatment is usually started after the surgical removal of the cancerous tumour, in order to ensure that more cancer cells found in some other part of the body are also killed.