There are two types of breast surgery for early breast cancer: breast conserving surgery and mastectomy.
Breast conserving surgery followed by radiotherapy is as effective as mastectomy for most women with early breast cancer. This means that for most women the chance of breast cancer spreading to other parts of the body and the chance of dying from breast cancer is the same after either treatment.
However, with breast conserving surgery followed by radiotherapy there’s a higher chance that the cancer could come back in the breast area. This is called local recurrence and doesn’t increase the chance of the cancer spreading to other parts of the body. Checking for local recurrence is one of the reasons why follow-up tests are important after treatment for breast cancer.
Both types of breast surgery usually also involve surgery to remove of one or more lymph nodes from the armpit (axilla).
Surgery is not used routinely in the treatment of metastatic breast cancer but may be important for some women.