Mastectomy

A mastectomy is the removal of the breast. As women, we understand that this can be a distressing prospect. The good news is that with modern medical treatment, this is seldom needed. Only in very large and advanced tumours are they considered. Occasionally, even advanced tumours can be reduced in size to enable the preservation of the breast. Please consult Dr Tan should you wish to consider breast conservation if a mastectomy has been recommended for you.

Please note that a mastectomy does NOT guarantee a cure for breast cancer. In the Guidelines for the Treatment of Breast Cancer published by the Ministry of Health (Singapore) in 2004, it is stated the local recurrence rate after a mastectomy is 6.2% and the local recurrence rate for breast conservation treatment is 5.9%. This is the reason why where possible, Dr Tan usually recommends breast conservation treatment.

If mastectomy is necessary, one may choose to have reconstruction. There are, however, issues with reconstruction which you may wish to discuss with Dr Tan. From anecdotal experiences related to her through her patients, one patient was unable to rejoin her church choir following reconstruction because the tissue from the abdominal wall weakened her muscular control for singing. For this reason also, Dr Tan makes every attempt to avoid removing the entire breast (mastectomy) and tries very hard to preserve the breast when treating breast cancer, so that the patients can return to their lives before discovering the cancer, and perhaps take up new endeavours. One example is this other patient of hers who took up Cantonese opera a year after breast conservation treatment, performing in a bare-back gown on stage! (picture) This patient chose Dr Tan’s offer of breast conservation despite being advised by others to have breast removal. As such, she did not have to undergo breast reconstruction using tissue from the abdominal wall or from her side and back (latissimus dorsi muscle). If she had, singing would have been a challenge as in the case of the former instance, and in the latter, the scar would have been visible at the back. Needless to say, if she had chosen to do a mastectomy without reconstruction, it would be unlikely she would contemplate wearing such a dress!(

Mastectomy

This patient chose Dr Tan’s offer of breast conservation despite being advised by another to have breast removal. As such, she did not have to undergo breast reconstruction using tissue from the abodominal wall or from her side and back (latissimus dorsi muscle). If she had, singing would have been a challenge in the case of the former instance, and in the latter, the scar would have been visible at the back. Needless to say, if she had chosen to do a mastectomy without reconstruction, it would be unlikely she would contemplate wearing such a dress!


Our Locations

Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital
38 Irrawaddy Road, #06-21
Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital
Singapore 329563
Phone: (65) 6694 1706

Mount Elizabeth Orchard
3 Mt Elizabeth, #11-02,
Mount Elizabeth Medical Centre
Singapore 228510
Phone: (65) 6734 4880

Consultation Hours

Mon - Fri: 9 am to 12:30pm; 2 pm to 5 pm
Sat: Strictly by Appointment