Lumpectomy is the surgical removal of the breast lump and some of the tissue around it. The lump is removed in one piece and sent to the lab for examination.
Lumpectomy is a form of breast-conserving surgery, meaning that surgeons aim to remove only the lump and the minimal amount of surrounding tissue to save as much of the breast and skin as possible. This surgery is one of many breast cancer treatments available. Unlike a mastectomy, which involves removal of all or a large portion of the breast tissue, a lumpectomy is not considered major surgery and women who have a lumpectomy often go home the same day of their procedure.
Who Is a Candidate for Lumpectomy?
You may be a candidate for a lumpectomy procedure if you have been newly diagnosed with early-stage (stage 1 or 2) breast cancer or ductal carcinoma in situ. In addition, tumors must be small or medium in size and generally located in one area to qualify for a lumpectomy.
Although generally performed to remove smaller tumors, a lumpectomy on larger tumors may be possible for some women receiving neoadjuvant chemotherapy to shrink larger tumors or are undergoing partial breast reconstruction.
What Are the Benefits of Lumpectomy?
The primary benefit of a lumpectomy is that the procedure aims to conserve as much of the breast tissue as possible.
How to Prepare for a Lumpectomy
Before your lumpectomy, you will meet with your surgeon to go over the procedure, its risks, and any reconstruction procedures. You and your doctor will also go over any medications, vitamins and supplements you are currently taking to make sure they will not interfere with your surgery or post-surgery care.
Your doctor will talk to you about any restrictions before your surgery, such a refraining from taking aspirin or other blood thinning medications. They will also give you instructions for eating and drinking before surgery and talk to you about brining someone along to support you and take you home when your procedure is over.
What to Expect During a Lumpectomy
The following are the general steps you can expect for a lumpectomy:
- A radiologist will locate the abnormal tissue in your breast; this will happen either the day of your surgery with wire localization or up to 30 days before the procedure.
- An anesthesiologist will give you medication to make you feel relaxed and comfortable.
- Your surgeon will make an incision to remove the cancer and some of the surrounding tissue, which will be sent to the lab to be reviewed by a pathologist.
- Your surgeon may remove lymph nodes if a sentinel lymph node biopsy or axillary lymph node dissection needs to be done.
- Your surgeon will then close the incision.
- After your lumpectomy, you will be taken to the recovery room to have your vital signs measured and monitored until you are released to go home.
Recovery and Next Steps
A lumpectomy is usually an outpatient procedure, so you will likely go home the same day as your surgery.
It may take a few days or a week or more for your incision to heal. Before your discharge, your doctor and health care providers will review with you and your caregiver how to care for your incision, restrictions during your recovery, as well as the pain medications and antibiotics you will need to take.
You will have a follow-up appointment with your doctor approximately two weeks after your lumpectomy to make sure your incision has healed and to review the results of the pathology report.
You should be able to resume all of your normal activities within a few weeks after your lumpectomy. The rate of recovery differs for every woman and it important to follow the advice of your doctor before resuming your full daily activities. In general, most women who have a lumpectomy go back to work in two to three days, are able to drive in tow to three weeks, and can resume normal exercise in four to six weeks.
Why Choose MD Anderson at Cooper
The Janet Knowles Breast Cancer Center at MD Anderson Cancer Center at Cooper is South Jersey’s leading breast cancer program. Our board-certified surgeons combine their expertise using state-of-the-art surgical techniques and advanced clinical care with personalized support services to ensure that you receive the care you need and expect.
Our surgeons and their teams guide you step-by-step so you know exactly what to expect during your lumpectomy and recovery. And we’ll be with you along the way to provide resources, information and cancer care support services to you and your family.