Back to Health A to Z. A mastectomy is an operation to remove a breast. It's used to treat breast cancer in women and breast cancer in men. Some women at high risk of breast cancer choose to have a mastectomy even when there's no sign of cancer. Before having a mastectomy, you will have the opportunity to discuss the operation with a specialist breast care nurse or surgeon.
You'll find many commonly used breast cancer terms across the Breast Cancer Now website. This glossary will help you to understand what they mean. Any additional treatment given after the main treatment, which is usually surgery. Read more on our treating breast cancer page. This term refers to breast cancer that has spread from the breast to other parts of the body.
The terms which are underlined have active hyperlinks. Click on an underlined word for a more comprehensive discussion of the term. Ablative therapy: Treatment that involves the removal or destruction of the function of an organ, as in the surgical removal of the ovaries or the administration of some types of chemotherapy that causes the ovaries to stop functioning. Abscess: A closed pocket of tissue containing pus a creamy, thick, pale yellow or yellow-green fluid that comes from dead tissue ; most commonly caused by a bacterial infection. Accessory breast tissue: An uncommon condition in which additional breast tissue is found in the axillary underarm area.