Mastectomy is the surgical removal of a breast to treat breast cancer. There are different types of mastectomies, and the choice of which to perform depends on the stage of cancer, size of the tumor, size of the breast, and whether the lymph nodes are involved. A total (simple) mastectomy involves the removal of breast tissue and nipple; in a modified radical mastectomy, most of the lymph nodes under the arm and often the lining over the chest muscles are removed, but the nipple may be spared. Mastectomies are major surgery and require a hospitalization. Afterwards, patients will take several weeks to recover fully as the swelling goes down. Physical therapy following the operation is typical, particularly so that patients return to their normal range of motion. Some patients at very high risk of breast cancer, usually as determined by genetic testing and family history, may have double mastectomies to remove both breasts in an attempt to reduce their breast-cancer risk. Many women have breast reconstruction to rebuild the breast(s) after a mastectomy. For breast reconstruction, a breast implant, or a patient's natural skin, fat and muscle, is used to recreate a natural-looking breast. 


The UAB Medicine cancer program is ranked among the best in the nation. Patients who come to UAB Medicine for breast cancer treatment have access to the full array of specialists within our system, including medical, surgical, and radiation oncologists, certified oncology nurses, nurse navigators, reconstructive surgeons, and more.

UAB Medicine's Breast Health Center is unique in that we deliver the full range of breast health services including screening, diagnosis, treatment, rehabilitation, and research. Through our Lynne Cohen Preventive Care Program for Women's Cancer, we also offer comprehensive risk assessments and prevention strategies for breast, ovarian, and uterine cancer, arming women with knowledge to make informed decisions about their cancer risk and care. For women whose cancer is now in remission, our Breast Cancer Survivorship Clinic provides the ongoing medical and emotional support they need to remain healthy long after their treatment has come to an end.

As a part of the O'Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center at UAB, our innovative Interdisciplinary Breast Cancer Clinic utilizes a team of dedicated breast specialists to help patients evaluate their options as effectively as possible, which also allows patients and their families to meet with our various team members in one convenient visit. This approach facilitates better communication among team members, patients, and their families. Each patient is evaluated initially by one of our breast specialists before meeting face to face with other team members to discuss long-term treatment planning. Individualized care plans are developed in roundtable discussions and discussed with the patient and family members during the same visit, which allows questions to be asked of each team member.

The UAB Integrative Medicine Clinic features a collaborative approach to patient care among multiple practitioners and utilizes therapies that are proven in both traditional and complementary health care. Integrative medicine combines traditional medical care with programs designed to address the physical, biological, lifestyle, emotional, psychological, and spiritual aspects of health and illness. It focuses on the whole person, including family members, to optimize wellness and manage the challenges throughout each patient’s chronic disease or cancer care journey, from prevention to survivorship and beyond. It encourages the human capacity for healing and emphasizes the relationship between practitioner and patient.






UAB is an active participant in research and clinical trials. We encourage you to speak to your physician about research and clinical trial options and browse the link below for more information.

View Clinical Trials