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In 1975, a radical mastectomy was usually the standard treatment for breast cancer. The entire breast, the underlying muscle, and lymph nodes under the arm were surgically removed as the best way to get rid of the cancer.
Over the past 30 years, treatment has shifted toward a "breast conservation" philosophy. In a great majority of cases, breast cancer now can be treated without a disfiguring, life-changing mastectomy. Since science has made great strides in the methods doctors use to identify and treat breast cancer, it is beneficial to take advantage of the new screening technologies that allow breast cancer to be detected and treated before a mastectomy is necessary.