Breast Cancer in women

Making treatment choices for breast cancer

The most appropriate type of surgery and treatment for each person depends on the size of the tumour and any spread of cancer.

Here women we interviewed talk about their experiences of making treatment choices.

Some women chose to have a lumpectomy and discussed their decisions. Several explained that, because it was difficult to make treatment choices, they relied on the recommendations of the medical staff. One of these women said she did not know how much of her breast would be removed but trusted the surgeon's expertise. Another described the treatment choices open to her and opted for a lumpectomy and partial reconstruction, as well as participation in a clinical trial.

One woman, who was pregnant when diagnosed, discussed the considerations important to her when choosing her treatment. Another, who had a lumpectomy, said she would consider having a mastectomy if she had any further problems. One woman had looked for more information before deciding to have a mastectomy rather than a lumpectomy.

Some women chose to have a mastectomy. Several felt that it might lower their chances of a recurrence. Others said they also wanted to avoid further treatment such as radiotherapy and chemotherapy. One woman, who opted for a second mastectomy, mentioned all of these reasons. One woman preferred to have a bilateral mastectomy because it might reduce the chances of recurrence as well as any problems with posture and weight.

Some women explained why, in their cases, there were no treatment choices involved. Because of the size of the tumour and type of cancer, a mastectomy was the best option (see 'Mastectomy'). Several women didn't want to make a choice because they knew little about the different treatments. One of these women had a mastectomy over 15 years ago and explained that, although lumpectomies were uncommon then, she wouldn't have wanted to make choices about treatment.

Last reviewed August 2018.
Last update May 2015.

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