mas·​tec·​to·​my | \ ma-ˈstek-tə-mē \
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

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 Perhaps the hardest part for Sophia and Vincent was their father’s months-long treatment, which began soon after their mother underwent a mastectomy. David Hernandez,, "Siblings create support group for children touched by cancer," 27 Feb. 2018 With nearly all of the breast tissue removed, as is done in a prophylactic mastectomy, the risk is reduced by approximately 90 to 95 percent. SELF, "6 Things You Should Know Before Having Top Surgery," 22 Mar. 2018 Betty Ford set the tone for modern times by being open about having a mastectomy to fight breast cancer. New York Times, "Kidney Condition Puts Melania Trump in the Hospital," 14 May 2018 The latest case involves Judy Perkins, a 52-year-old structural engineer who lives in Port St. Lucie, Florida, and had a mastectomy after being diagnosed with very early stage breast cancer in 2003. Laurie Mcginley, ajc, "Researchers use immune-cell 'army' to battle another tough cancer," 4 June 2018 Phyllis Laccetti, a participant in the study, took the hormonal therapy tamoxifen alone for five years after having a mastectomy in 2007 to treat her breast cancer, even though her doctor’s initial recommendation was to also receive chemotherapy. Peter Loftus, WSJ, "Doctors Suggest Less Chemo, Surgery for Some Cancer Treatments," 3 June 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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mast brown

mast cell




master's deed

Statistics for mastectomy

Last Updated

7 Jan 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 \
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

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tremendous in size, volume, or degree

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