The usual type of operation for breast cancer in the Philippines is the modified radical mastectomy or MRM. The entire breast is removed, together with the nodes in armpit.
However, when breast cancer is detected early, the entire breast does not have to be removed. This is called Breast Conserving Therapy or BCT. An adequate margin is obtained around the cancerous tissue, then the wound is closed, as seen below the right nipple. Then the lymph nodes in the armpit are removed. The breast is still intact after the removal of the cancerous tissue. Around a month after operation, the patient has to undergo radiation to the breast.
In some situations, removing ALL the lymph nodes in the armpit can lead to lymphedema, or swelling of the arm. We can minimize this problem by taking out only one or two lymph nodes. To identify which of the dozen or more lymph nodes should be the ones biopsied, we perform SENTINEL NODE MAPPING by using a radiocolloid or a blue dye.
DISCLAIMER: the best type of operation depends on many factors. Please consult with your doctor which operation is appropriate for your diagnosis.