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What happens during a modified radical mastectomy?

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Quick Answer

During a modified radical mastectomy, the skin, breast tissue, areola and nipple are removed, according to WebMD. Additionally, most of the lymph nodes found under the arm are removed, along with lining over the pectoralis major muscle.

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Full Answer

During the procedure, the patient is under general anesthesia, explains WebMD. One incision is made across the side of the chest, and the skin is pulled back. The breast and muscle lining are removed, after which the incision is closed. Most often, an MRM procedure is completed in two to four hours. Women who have breast reconstruction surgery during this time may have a longer surgery. The lymph nodes that are removed during surgery are sent to a laboratory for analysis, where it is determined whether cancer is present in the nodes. While some women experience nerve damage that causes numbness in the arm, most women regain feeling as time passes.

The MRM procedure is less disfiguring than a traditional radical mastectomy, states WebMD. The MRM procedure does not include removal of the pectoralis major muscle, which prevents a hollow area in the chest that is associated with a radical mastectomy. Studies regarding MRM show that the procedure is as effective as a radical mastectomy. This type of surgery is commonly utilized for breast cancer in early stages that has also spread to lymph nodes.

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