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Breast Surgery

Frequently Asked Questions

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please call (646) 962-4240
When should I get a mammogram?

The age recommended for beginning annual mammograms is 40 unless you have relatives who have or had breast cancer. In that case, we recommend a mammogram at 10 years younger than the age that your relative developed breast cancer. For example, if your mother had breast cancer at 45 years of age, we would recommend an annual mammogram screening for you at age 35.

Do I also need to have an ultrasound?

The breast tissue is very dense for many women in their 40s. An ultrasound can be an additional diagnostic tool, going beyond a mammogram as far as sensitivity, to locate breast cancers.

Do you recommend breast MRIs for screening?

We rarely recommend breast MRIs for screening because the incidence of false-positive readings can be high. This option should be discussed with your physician.

Does having a core needle breast biopsy spread the breast cancer?

No. There has been extensive data showing that a core needle breast biopsy is a very accurate way to diagnose breast cancer. There is absolutely no evidence to suggest that this procedure causes any spread of breast cancer.

Is every breast mass a breast cancer?

No. There are many things that can cause a breast mass such as benign cysts and fibroadenomas. If you do feel a breast mass you should see your physician for further evaluation.

How experienced are the surgeons at the Weill Cornell Breast Center?

The surgeons at the Weill Cornell Breast Center have among them more than 50 years of experience in breast cancer surgery and have pioneered many of the innovative techniques used today. You should ask your surgeon about his or her experience.

Am I a candidate for nipple-sparing mastectomy?

This is a question best answered by both your breast cancer surgeon and plastic surgeon. However, the majority of patients who are recommended to have a mastectomy, or who desire to have a mastectomy, are candidates for nipple-sparing. This approach lends itself to an ideal cosmetic result, symmetry with the opposite breast, or with reconstruction of the existing breast.

Can the shape of my breast be improved at the same time I have reconstruction surgery?

Some women who have a droopy breast may want a breast lift at the same time as their reconstruction and we try to address this if possible.

If surgery is needed on only one breast, can both breasts be made symmetrical?

Yes. It is possible to do a symmetry procedure for the other breast if the patient is only having surgery on one breast.

Are there different types of reconstructive procedures available?

Yes. There are two main categories of reconstruction: prosthetic or implant-based reconstruction and autologous-based in which that patient's own tissue is used to reconstruct the breast. Some reconstructions can combine both techniques. Within each of these categories, there are several variations, including microsurgical reconstruction. Each of these options will be discussed in depth with your breast cancer surgeon and plastic surgeon.

Can I have reconstruction at the same time as my mastectomy?

Yes. Your plastic surgeon will explain the several options that are available to you.

How long is the recovery period after reconstructive surgery?

The timelines for recovery can vary significantly since surgery is tailored to each patient and depends on the type of reconstruction performed. This should be discussed with your surgeon.

At the Weill Cornell Breast Center, will I continue to see my physician after surgery?

Yes. We work as a team and are available to you for the duration of your treatment and recovery. In addition, all of your medical records reside on a secure Internet system and can be accessed by any of our team members. We are all situated in the same location, facilitating collaborative care.

Do all patients who have breast cancer need to have chemotherapy?

It depends on the type of tumor and the size and number of the lymph nodes involved. This part of the treatment plan will be discussed with your medical oncology team in consultation with your surgeon.

If I have chemotherapy, will I lose my ability to conceive?

We work closely with Weill Cornell fertility specialists and medical oncologists in order to help women maintain fertility during chemotherapy after surgery.

I just got pregnant and learned I have breast cancer. How will this affect my pregnancy?

Working with a team of maternal-fetal specialists, we can successfully operate on patients with breast cancer who are pregnant.

Will my breast cancer treatment be covered by my insurance?

The Weill Cornell Breast Center accepts a wide range of insurance plans. Our office will work with you to determine your insurance coverage.

What resources are available to me after my treatment?

The Weill Cornell Breast Center offers a Survivorship Program to support our patients throughout their lifetime after a breast cancer diagnosis. Patients can learn about the latest advances in breast cancer treatment and research through lectures, as well as various aspects of wellness following breast cancer treatment.

Questions to Ask Your Breast Cancer Surgeon

Since each patient's situation is unique, many questions can only be answered by that patient's surgeon. Following are some questions to consider when speaking to your doctor:

  • What is the difference in survival with a mastectomy versus lumpectomy?
  • Where is the scar going to be?
  • How is it going to look?
  • How am I going to feel after the surgery?
  • How long is the recovery?
  • Is the cancer going to come back?
  • What are the risks and benefits of each of the procedures?
  • How does radiation therapy affect my options for reconstructive surgery?
  • Will I need frequent screening and checkups after breast reconstruction?
  • Should I undergo a genetic risk assessment? Should my relatives?


Breast Surgery
(646) 962-4240
Breast Surgery at NewYork-Presbyterian/Lower Manhattan Hospital
(646) 962-5213
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