BREAST REMOVAL SURGERY OR MASTECTOMY IN SINGAPORE
Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer among Singaporean women, and over the past decade, there is growth in the number of women being diagnosed with the condition. It is said that 1 out of 14 women are likely to develop breast cancer in their lifetime. Currently, more than 1,800 new cases of breast cancer in the country every year, most are in the early stage. As a result, the rate of women undergoing breast removal surgery or mastectomy in Singapore remains high.
What is mastectomy in Singapore?
Mastectomy is the removal of breast tissue and/or nearby tissues to treat or prevent breast cancer. For those with early-stage breast cancer, mastectomy is an option to prevent cancer cells to spread to surrounding tissues. Though mastectomy primarily focuses on the breasts, other procedures involve the removal of lymph nodes or the chest muscle beneath the breast, depending on the type and progression of cancer.
In the past, a radical mastectomy- the complete removal of the breast, lymph nodes in the underarm, and some chest muscles under the breasts- was the standard treatment for breast cancer. Now, because of the advancements in medical technology, there are now several options of mastectomy available, depending on the need of the patient.
Types of mastectomy in Singapore
- Simple or Total Mastectomy
– Simple or total mastectomy concentrates on removing the breast tissues itself. It does not remove the lymph nodes in the underarm area and muscles from beneath the breast. However, sometimes, lymph nodes are removed because they are located within the breast tissue that will be taken out during the surgery.
– This type of breast removal surgery in Singapore is commonly done to women who have ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) in multiple or large areas in the breast. It is also for women who want to prevent any possibility of breast cancer re-occurring.
- Modified Radical Mastectomy
– This type of operation removes both the breast tissue and lymph nodes. To be exact, it removes the Level I (below the lower edge of the pectoralis minor muscle) and II (underneath the pectoralis minor muscle) underarm lymph nodes. Though, it does not remove muscles underneath the breast.
– For those who have invasive breast cancer, this is a recommended option because it examines the lymph node to identify if cancer cells have spread beyond the breast.
- Radical Mastectomy
– Radical mastectomy is the most extensive type of mastectomy in Singapore. It removes breast tissues, lymph nodes, and chest wall muscles under the breast. This operation removes the Level I (below the lower edge of the pectoralis minor muscle), II (underneath the pectoralis minor muscle), and III (above the pectoralis minor muscle) underarm lymph nodes.
– It is only recommended if the breast cancer has spread to the chest muscles under the breast.
- Partial Mastectomy
– This type is the removal of the cancerous part of the breast tissue and some normal tissue around it. Lumpectomy (breast conserving surgery) is a form of partial mastectomy, but it removes more tissues than a lumpectomy.
- Nipple-Sparing Mastectomy
– In this type of mastectomy in Singapore, all the breast tissue is removed, except for the nipple.
Preparation for breast removal surgery
The doctor will give specific instructions about the restrictions you need to follow before the surgery. Here are the other things that you need to know to make sure your surgery will go smoothly:
- Inform your doctor about any medication, vitamins, or supplements you are taking, as it could interfere with the surgery.
- Stop taking aspirin or other blood-thinning medication, for at least a week before the surgery, because it can increase the risk of excessive bleeding.
- Do not eat or drink 8 to 12 hours before the surgery. The doctor will give you specific instructions about your meals.
- Ask your doctor how long you are expected to stay in the hospital. Prepare essentials like clothes, slippers, toiletries, and anything that makes you feel more comfortable.
Aftercare for breast removal surgery
For a healthy recovery, make sure to follow the aftercare plan your doctor gave you. Also, you can do the following to make you comfortable while recovering from the operation:
- Get plenty of rest during the first few weeks after surgery to recover your energy and strength.
- During recovery, you will feel the interval of pain and numbness. Make sure to take your medication as prescribed by your doctor.
- Keep the surgical site dry until your drains and stitches are out. Sponge baths are recommended; no tub baths or showers.
- Because you are recovering your strength, you will not be capable of doing strenuous activities. Still, try to do light exercises, especially for the arms, to prevent them from getting stiff.
- Get all the help you can with meal prep, housework, rides to doctors’ appointments, and whatever else you aren’t ready to take on by yourself.
Remember that your journey for better health does not stop after your surgery. You may still need to see different specialists after the surgery, like a radiation oncologist if you need radiation treatments, a medical oncologist for further treatment of the operation, a plastic surgeon if you’d like to pursue breast reconstruction and a counselor or support group that will help you come with the changes and challenges that breast cancer brings.