Breast Cancer Surgery

A breast cancer diagnosis is both frightening and overwhelming.  You need professionals on your side who can help you navigate the complex world of your diagnosis, cancer staging and your treatment options.  The team at Missoula Surgical Associates is prepared to take care of all your surgical breast needs.  Our collaborative group works directly with oncology and radiation oncology to ensure you receive the highest standard of care and treatment available in Western Montana.  We are here for you during this difficult time.

Diagnosis Options

A breast biopsy is a procedure that removes a small sampling of breast tissue for diagnostic examination.  Your doctor may use any of the following biopsy options for diagnosing your cancer:

  • Core Needle Biopsy – This procedure uses mammogram or ultrasound imaging to guide the needle directly into the mass so a small portion can be removed and examined.
  • Incisional Biopsy – During this procedure, a small incision is made to remove a small portion of the mass.
  • Excisional Biopsy – This procedure removes the entire mass.
  • Stereotactic (needle-localized) Biopsy – This type of biopsy uses mammogram or ultrasound imaging to guide a needle to the mass.  An incision is then made to remove a portion of the mass.

Cancer Stages

Staging of breast cancer involves a number of factors, including the size of the tumor, whether lymph nodes are involved and whether the cancer has spread to other areas.  There are both early and late stages of breast cancer:

Early Stages

  • Stage 0 – non-invasive cancer present in the lining of a lobule or duct
  • Stage I – cancer has spread to nearby tissue, tumor is ¾ inches or less in diameter, lymph nodes are not involved
  • Stage II – cancer has spread to nearby tissue, tumor is ¾-two inches in diameter, lymph nodes may or may not be involved

Advanced Stages

  • Stage III – cancer has spread to tissue in or near the breast, tumor may be larger than two inches across, lymph nodes may or may not be involved
  • Stage IV – cancer has spread from breast to lymph nodes to other parts of the body, such as the liver, lung, brain or bone (known as metastatic cancer)


When surgical treatment is indicated for breast cancer, our surgeons will work closely with the rest of your treatment team ensuring your procedure is targeted to your individual needs.  Our on site breast care navigator will work directly with you to coordinate the twists and turns in your treatment journey.  We also attend weekly meetings where the different specialists from your cancer journey gather to discuss cases and create specific treatment plans, giving you the highest level of consideration in their treatment protocol.  The basic surgical options offered at Missoula Surgical Associates include:

Lumpectomy – This procedure removes the cancerous tissue and some surrounding tissue from the breast, while leaving the breast intact.  In some cases, lymph nodes may also be checked during a lumpectomy to ensure cancer cells have not spread there. Lumpectomies are typically restricted to patients with early stages of breast cancer.  They are often accompanied by several weeks of radiation therapy.

Mastectomy – A mastectomy is a surgical procedure to remove one or both breasts.  It is usually recommended for patients with advance stages of breast cancer.  There are many different techniques available for mastectomies, allowing us to customize our treatments to the specific needs of our patients.  Mastectomies can often “cure” cancer and lower the risk for the cancer’s return.  However, some patients will need additional treatment after a mastectomy, such as chemotherapy to ensure no stray cancer cells are left in the body.

Breast Reconstruction Options

Breast Reconstruction is an option for many patients after a mastectomy.  This procedure restores the appearance of the breast and can be performed at the same time as the mastectomy or later on.  Breast reconstruction can go far in helping you heal physically and emotionally after a mastectomy.  While these procedures are usually performed by plastic surgeons, our team will work with that professional to ensure your initial breast cancer surgery prepares you for the reconstruction option.

Breast cancer is a difficult diagnosis to hear, but having medical providers who understand your fears, and work with you on a personal level during your treatment, will make all the difference.  If you are facing breast cancer, contact our team at Missoula Surgical Associates at 406.542.7525 to learn more about your treatment options.