Breast cancer treatment in Nigeria | Breast cancer surgery (Mastectomy)


Breast cancer is a type of cancer which invades the cells and tissues of the breast. It occurs predominantly in Women with a rare occurrence in men. Breast cancer formation starts either in the lobules or ducts of the breast. Breast cancer is the most dangerous and invasive form of cancer in females and when not treated timely and properly can be lethal.

Thankfully, due to Medical advancements in the treatment and early detection of Breast cancer, there has been a decline in the death rates.

What are the stages of  Breast Cancer?

There are 5 major stages in the development of breast cancer but all of which should only be inferred by a Doctor after physical evaluation, Mammogram and other diagnostic imaging.  Do not attempt to self-diagnose or presume any of these. The 5 stages are;

Stage 0; Here, the abnormal cells may have formed but not spread to the surrounding tissues

Early Stage/Stage I; The cancer may have spread to a small section of the surrounding tissues.

Localized Stage/Stage II; A tumor between 20-50mm in size will have been formed which may and may not involve the lymph nodes.

Regional Spread/Stage III; The tumour formed will be larger than 50mm in diameter involving the lymph nodes and spread towards the chest region. In some cases, the tumour of the body will no longer be present and metamorphosed into full-blown cancer.

Distant Spread/Stage IV; The cancer would have spread from beyond the breasts to other parts of the body.

What Causes Breast Cancer?

Breast cancer predominantly arises when some cells begin to grow, divide and multiply abnormally leading to the formation of a "lump". These cells then continue to rapidly spread throughout the breast, lymph nodes and in more severe cases throughout the body. A few researchers point to that a person may be affected by cancer largely due to the following risk  factors;

1. Genetic makeup/ genetic mutations 

2. Environmental factors

3. Hormones

4. Lifestyle habits and diets

5. Age

6. Exposure to certain kinds of radiation

7. Obesity and weight problems

8. Alcohol

9. Previous Medical history such as breast conditions

What are the Symptoms of Breast cancer?

If you experience any or all of the following symptoms, please seek a Medical examination immediately. Some of the symptoms may include;

1. Orange skin (when you notice pitting of the skin around your breast causing it to look like an orange

2. Change in the shape, appearance and size of the breast

3. If you feel a lump or abnormal mass that is quite different from the surrounding tissues

4. Scaling, crusting and flaking around the nipples

5. Nipple inversion

Breast cancer treatment in Nigeria

Breast cancer treatment usually depend on the stage of the cancer but major forms of treatment are;

1. Medical Procedures

2. Surgical treatment

3. Medications

In Some cases,  a combination therapy of two or more of these treatment options is used to fully combat the cancer. 

Medical Procedures; employs the use of radiation therapy(radiotherapy) and teletherapy. 

Medications; involve the use of Oestrogen Modulators, chemotherapy

Surgical treatment;  These include tissue expansion, lymph node dissection, lumpectomy and mastectomy.


Radiotherapy is a type of cancer treatment that focuses on the use of beams in high doses of radiation to shrink and destroy growing cancer cells and tumours. This is done by targeting the affected areas. This is safely delivered by a radio machine that bombards the targetted area with invisible rays.


Chemotherapy is a standardised treatment that involves an aggressive use of anti-cancer drugs to destroy the cancer cells in the body. It targets the cancer cells at the point of growth and rapid cell division and in some cases slows down the growth of tumours.

Lumpectomy (Breast lump removal surgery)

 A lumpectomy is a surgical procedure to remove the lump (tumour) and any other surrounding unhealthy tissues. Unlike Mastectomy which removes the entire breast, Lumpectomy focuses on the removal of the lump and infected tissues and hence can be referred to as Breast-conserving surgery.

Cancer treatment by Mastectomy

A Mastectomy is a type of surgery performed to remove the breast. A mastectomy is usually employed as a means to eradicate breast cancer by taking out the affected tissues in the breast or sometimes the whole breast in some cases. A mastectomy may also be carried out as a pre-emptive measure for people who may likely be affected by breast cancer due to past experiences, medical history and a combination of other factors.

Certain types of mastectomy may remove only a part of the breast tissue while some other types are very extensive. 

What are the different types of mastectomy?

The most common mastectomies are;

1. Simple (or total) mastectomy 

2. Radical mastectomy

3. Modified radical mastectomy 

Others include the skin-sparing mastectomy, nipple-sparing mastectomy and double mastectomy.

Simple Mastectomy

During a simple mastectomy, the breast tissues (lobules, ducts, and fatty tissue) and the nipple are taken out. This surgery most often may require a hospital stay. 

Radical Mastectomy

This is described as the most comprehensive type of mastectomy. This surgical process involves the removal of the entire breast, the axillary lymph nodes as well as the pectoral muscles. This is done for cases of very large tumours or where the cancer has spread towards the underlying muscles.

Modified Radical Mastectomy

This type of mastectomy is normally done to treat invasive cancer that has spread to the lymph nodes (under the arm). it involves the removal of the overlying skin, the nipple and the areola. In more serious cases, a part of the chest wall muscle may also be taken out.

Nipple Sparing Mastectomy

A Nipple-sparing mastectomy is done to preserve the nipple, external skin and areola. This is usually done for improved aesthetics after treatment.

Skin Sparing Mastectomy

In skin-sparing mastectomy, the breast skin is preserved and reconstructed while the nipple, areola as well as affected tissues will be taken out.

Why is a Mastectomy done?

Mastectomy surgery is done mostly as a means to treat the early stages of breast cancer and also as a preventive measure. A mastectomy is usually done in cases where a lumpectomy cannot be carried out. A lumpectomy also known as breast-conserving surgery is done to remove the tumour from the breast in the earliest stage of infection.

 A mastectomy treatment is done to treat different types of cancers including ductal carcinoma (DCIS), stages 1 and 11 early stages of breast cancer, stage 111 breast cancer (after chemotherapy may have been carried out) and locally recurrent breast cancer. 

Mastectomy may be best recommended taking into consideration options like 

1. The number and location of tumours

2. Recurrence of breast cancer even after treatment by radiation.

3. Pregnancy; hence chemotherapy may pose a risk to the unborn child

4. Persistence of the cancer even after lumpectomy

5. High-risk factors such as genetic mutation  that puts one at high risk of developing breast cancer

6. Other prevalent medical conditions such as Scleroderma, connective tissue diseases or lupus.

However be the case, getting a mastectomy done should be under medical advice after the necessary evaluation.

What is the cost of Breast cancer treatment in Nigeria?

The cost of Breast cancer treatment depends on various factors such as

1. The  treatment option chosen (Surgery, chemo or radiotherapy)

2. The stage of the cancer

3.  Location of the hospital

4. Choice hospital

5.  Duration of treatment

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. How much does a mastectomy cost in Nigeria?

 This depends on the type of mastectomy, location of the hospital, reason for mastectomy, stage of cancer, Surgeon and duration of stay at the hospital. 

2. Is Breast cancer common in Nigeria?

Studies have shown that Women of all races and ethnicities can be affected by breast cancer but in Nigeria, Most breast cancers in women are usually detected at the late stages hence the high fatality rates as there used to be considerably little awareness of early detection.

3. What is the most common type of cancer in Nigeria?  

Cervical cancers and breast cancers are prominent in females while prostrate cancer is dominant in Men.

4. How much does breast cancer treatment cost in Nigeria?

 Breast cancer treatment costs vary from hospital to hospital and usually depends upon various factors like the type of treatment, duration of treatment, hospital and its location and Specialists/Surgeon involved in treatment.


DisclaimerThe information provided herein is for patient general knowledge only and should not be used during any medical emergency, for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Duplication for personal and commercial use must be authorized in writing by

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