mas·​tec·​to·​my | \ ma-ˈstek-tə-mē How to pronounce mastectomy (audio) \
plural mastectomies

Definition of mastectomy

: surgical removal of all or part of the breast and sometimes associated lymph nodes and muscles

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Did You Know?

Breast cancer is the most common cancer among American women. Early cases can often be treated with drugs or with a small operation called a lumpectomy (because it removes a lump). Though a "simple mastectomy" is larger than a lumpectomy, it allows the breast to be reconstructed, using artificial implants or tissue from elsewhere on the body. But "radical mastectomy", which is required when the cancer is at an advanced stage, takes much of the chest muscle and makes reconstruction impossible.

Examples of mastectomy in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

For me, that meant undergoing a preventative double mastectomy. Sara Altschule, SELF, "8 Things Not to Say to Someone After a Mastectomy," 3 Dec. 2018 The silver lining has been that bralettes abound in my post-mastectomy life. Suzanne Zuppello, SELF, "How I Found the Right Bras After Mastectomy and Reconstruction," 25 Oct. 2018 There are also situations where the silicone is dispersed throughout the breast and mastectomy with reconstruction is the only option. 5. SELF, "6 Things You Should Know Before Having Top Surgery," 22 Mar. 2018 Caro went onto have a bilateral mastectomy on June 4, 2012 and had reconstruction afterward. Diana Pearl,, "Idaho Nurse and Mom of 2 Diagnosed with Breast Cancer at 32 — Then Loses Her Job," 23 Feb. 2018 Jen had a mastectomy and chemo in her second trimester, then radiation after her healthy daughter was born. Kate Rockwood, Good Housekeeping, "After a Metastatic Breast Cancer Diagnosis, One Mom Is Encouraging Others to Ask the Right Questions," 15 Aug. 2018 Women included in the analysis had surgery between 2010 and 2012 to treat what was likely early-stage breast cancer, such as a lumpectomy or mastectomy. Melanie Evans, WSJ, "Many Breast Cancer Patients Don’t Get Recommended Follow-Up, Study Finds," 16 July 2018 Dana Rodriguez for Vox There’s something truly wonderful about referring to a procedure as specific as a bilateral mastectomy with a term as blandly ominous as top surgery. Daniel Ortberg, Vox, "The best $6,250 I ever spent: top surgery," 18 Dec. 2018 She and my dad went on their first trip to Europe fo,r their anniversary, two years after her mastectomy. Lori Segal, Allure, "My Mom's Breast Cancer Story Doesn't Have a Happy Ending," 11 Oct. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'mastectomy.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of mastectomy

circa 1923, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for mastectomy

Greek mastos breast + English -ectomy

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Dictionary Entries near mastectomy


mast brown

mast cell




master's deed

Statistics for mastectomy

Last Updated

13 May 2019

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Time Traveler for mastectomy

The first known use of mastectomy was circa 1923

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More Definitions for mastectomy


mas·​tec·​to·​my | \ ma-ˈstek-tə-mē How to pronounce mastectomy (audio) \
plural mastectomies

Medical Definition of mastectomy

: surgical removal of all or part of the breast and sometimes associated lymph nodes and muscles — see modified radical mastectomy, partial mastectomy, radical mastectomy, simple mastectomy

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More from Merriam-Webster on mastectomy

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with mastectomy

Nglish: Translation of mastectomy for Spanish Speakers Encyclopedia article about mastectomy

Comments on mastectomy

What made you want to look up mastectomy? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a sum of money that is sent as a payment

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