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

Since her mother’s death, Hilary has contemplated her mastectomy choice. Catherine Bigelow,, "SF Chronicle columnist Leah Garchik gets a big thank you and swell sendoff," 25 June 2019 Among them is a woman who developed infections after a mastectomy. Jessica Seaman, The Denver Post, "At least one death, “hundreds of severe infections” linked to Porter hospital’s use of contaminated surgical instruments, lawsuit alleges," 16 June 2019 Gender-affirming surgeries covered by Medicaid include 16 types of genital surgery, as well as breast augmentation or mastectomy, a surgery that removes the whole breast. USA TODAY, "Retired monkeys, freeze-dried blood, ‘Hidden Figures Way’: News from around our 50 states," 14 June 2019 For now, experts typically rely on removing as much of the tumor as possible (either through a lumpectomy or mastectomy) in addition to chemotherapy, according to the Mayo Clinic. Mary Claire Lagroue, SELF, "How Is Triple Negative Breast Cancer Different from Other Diagnoses?," 31 May 2019 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

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

8 Jul 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

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