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Much tissue is removed in a radical mastectomy
Radical mastectomy is a surgical procedure in which the breast, underlying chest muscle (including pectoralis major and pectoralis minor), and lymph nodes of the axilla are removed as a treatment for breast cancer.
It was developed and first performed by French surgeon Bernard Peyrilhe (1737-1804) in connection with his researches on cancer, although partial or complete breast removal had been done for centuries. The first radical mastectomy in the U.S. was performed at Johns Hopkins Hospital by William Stewart Halsted in 1882. From about 1895 to the mid-1970s about 90% of the women being treated for breast cancer in the U.S. underwent the Halsted radical mastectomy.
This is a very morbid disfiguring surgery and is no longer performed except in extreme cases. Prior to 1975, if a woman had a lump in her breast, and the lump proved to be malignant, a radical mastectomy was performed immediately, in the belief that it was necessary to prevent the further spread of the cancer. If the lymph nodes tested benign, the surgery was considered successful. The operation was very stressful for women, because, in many cases, they would go under anesthesia not knowing whether a suspicious lump was malignant or not and wake up to find that a radical mastectomy had been performed.
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