Today, women with primary breast cancer may consider three surgical options: breast-conserving surgery (BCS), mastectomy (MT), and mastectomy with contralateral prophylactic mastectomy (MT + CPM). In each case, the ipsilateral axilla is generally managed with a sentinel node biopsy and possibly an axillary lymph node dissection. BCS generally requires breast radiotherapy, except in older women having tumors with a favorable prognosis who will receive endocrine therapy. In contrast, women treated with MT generally do not require radiotherapy, except for those with large tumors or metastases to the axillary nodes. Moreover, MT and MT + CPM are usually undertaken with breast reconstruction. Yet, most patients today are suitable candidates for BCS, with a few relative contraindications. Thus, early pregnancy, previous radiotherapy to the breasts, active collagen vascular disease, multicentric breast cancer, large tumors (although neoadjuvant systemic therapy can often reduce tumor size), and the presence of the BRCA mutation are all relative contraindications to BCS. BRCA mutation carriers should consider MT + CPM because their risk of contralateral breast cancer is greatly increased. In the U.S., the use of MT for the treatment of primary breast cancer has declined in recent years, while MT + CPM rates have increased, and BCS rates have remained relatively stable. The underlying reasons for these trends are not fully understood. Local therapy options should be discussed with each patient in considerable detail, and more studies are needed to better elucidate which factors influence a woman's choice of local therapy following a breast cancer diagnosis.
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