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The History of Mastectomy

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The mastectomy that is performed today is a procedure born from hundreds of years of discoveries, inventions, and amendments to existing surgical techniques. The reasons for performing this extreme surgery have changed as well, ranging from unilateral breast removal to allow greater upper limb functionality to bilateral removal of the breasts or breast tissue in individuals predisposed to breast cancer or in individuals who have already been diagnosed. The additions of surgical tools and anesthetics to the field of medicine further transformed the surgical field in general and had a large impact on the mastectomy. William Halsted's radical mastectomy served as the basis of most future breast removal techniques, and it the method recognized today as the “radical mastectomy.” Most radical surgeries are currently used for prophylaxis, whereas less invasive lumpectomies have eclipsed breast removal surgeries as of the latter half of the 20th century.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Section of Pediatric Neurosurgery, Children's Hospital, Birmingham, Alabama; and the 2: Tuberculosis and Lung Disease Research Center, Tabriz University of Medical Sciences, Tabriz, Iran

Publication date: May 1, 2011

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  • The Southeastern Surgical Congress owns and publishes The American Surgeon monthly. It is the official journal of the Congress and the Southern California Chapter of the American College of Surgeons, which all members receive each month. The journal brings up to date clinical advances in surgical knowledge in a popular reference format. In addition to publishing papers presented at the annual meetings of the associated organizations, the journal publishes selected unsolicited manuscripts. If you have a manuscript you'd like to see published in The American Surgeon select "Information for Authors" from the Related Information options below. A Copyright Release Form must accompany all manuscripts submitted.
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