Page Menu

Can Breast Cancer Recur After a Mastectomy?

A mastectomy is a surgical procedure that removes an entire breast. This procedure may be used as a treatment for breast cancer or a preventative measure for individuals at high risk of developing breast cancer. If your physician has recommended a mastectomy as part of your treatment plan, you may be wondering if this procedure will prevent breast cancer recurrence. Although a mastectomy removes all of the breast tissue, there is still a chance that breast cancer can return.

Factors that affect the risk of breast cancer recurrence following a mastectomy

Your individual risk for breast cancer recurrence after receiving a mastectomy will depend on several factors, including the type of breast cancer you have and whether it is affected by hormones, the size and location of your tumor, how quickly the cancer cells grew and the stage of cancer at the time of treatment. In particular, if breast cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes, such as those in the underarm area, the likelihood of recurrence may be higher.

Where does breast cancer recur?

Breast cancer recurrence can be categorized by where in the body it occurs when it returns. These categories include:

  • Local recurrence – This type of recurrence describes breast cancer that develops in or near the same area where it originally developed, such as scar tissue, the chest wall or other nearby tissue.
  • Regional recurrence – Breast cancer that returns in a nearby region, such as the lymph nodes in the armpit or collar bone, is known as a regional recurrence.
  • Distant recurrence – Also called metastatic recurrence, this type of recurrence describes breast cancer that returns in a distant area of the body, such as the bones, lungs or liver.

Where to receive individualized advice on breast cancer recurrence

If you have concerns about your individual risk of breast cancer recurrence that you would like to discuss with a Moffitt physician, call 1-888-663-3488 or fill out a new patient registration form online. We welcome patients with or without a referral.