09/12/2012 02:46 pm ET Updated Sep 13, 2012

Kathy Bates Undergoes Double Mastectomy For Breast Cancer: What Is Breast-Removal Surgery?

Actress Kathy Bates has undergone a double mastectomy after being diagnosed with breast cancer, People magazine reported.

"After much consideration, I underwent a double mastectomy," Bates, 64, told People. "Luckily, I don't have to undergo radiation or chemo. My family call me Kat because I always land on my feet and thankfully this is no exception."

Bates also battled ovarian cancer nine years ago, according to the magazine.

Mastectomy is breast-removal surgery; it can either be done as a preventive measure (for people who have a high risk of developing breast cancer) or as a treatment for people already diagnosed with the disease, like Bates, according to the National Institutes of Health.

There are many kinds of mastectomy, each with varying degrees of breast removal. A total mastectomy, for example, means that all of the breast tissue, as well as the nipple, are surgically removed, while a radical mastectomy includes the complete removal of the breast, chest muscles and the lymph nodes, the NIH reported.

Lumpectomy is also an option, where much of the breast is conserved and just the tumor is taken out, according to the Mayo Clinic. Even though efficacy of lumpectomy and mastectomy are about the same, some people may not be able to undergo -- or may choose not to undergo -- lumpectomy.

Whether mastectomy rates are increasing or decreasing is not completely clear, though a 2010 study in the Journal of Clinical Oncology showed that rates are not increasing even though other studies had suggested an increase in mastectomy rates, Reuters reported. That study included 230,000 breast cancer patients who were diagnosed sometime between 2000 and 2006.

However, the researchers of that study did note that there was a slight increase in the number of mastectomies being performed between 2005 and 2006, Reuters reported:

While this increase wasn't statistically significant, meaning it could have been due to chance, it could also signal a future rise in mastectomy rates.

Similarly, a 2012 study in The Breast Journal also suggested that the rate of mastectomy was declining up until 2005. That study included 21,869 women with earlier-stage breast cancer who were diagnosed between 1998 and 2007 and participated in the Kentucky Cancer Registry. However, the researchers did find that the mastectomy rate is "now increasing across all age groups, especially for women < 50 years and ≥70 years," they wrote in the study.

For more inspiring stars who have been touched by breast cancer, click through the slideshow:

Inspiring Faces Of Breast Cancer