Mastectomy is the surgical removal of the breast for purposes of stopping the spread or preventing the occurrence of breast cancer. A “simple mastectomy” refers to removal of all breast tissue as well as a portion of skin that includes the nipple and areola. Here, underlying chest muscles and lymph nodes that have not been affected are left intact. Patients who undergo a mastectomy will often have additional treatment such as chemotherapy, and may also require removal of nearby lymph nodes to help reduce the chances of cancer recurring. A modified radical mastectomy is the removal of the whole breast along with axillary lymph nodes while sparing only the pectoralis major muscle in the chest. It may be recommended for patients with inflammatory breast cancer, those who have previously undergone radiation therapy and those with large or not-well-defined breast tumors. Other forms of mastectomy include a bilateral skin sparing mastectomy and a nipple and areola sparing mastectomy. Your specialist will thoroughly discuss your condition and options for surgical intervention.