What is involved in lumpectomy surgery?

Lumpectomy (surgical removal of a breast lump) is one of the most common treatments for breast cancer. It is interesting to note that the majority of breast lumps are benign.

During lumpectomy surgery, the cancer is removed, while leaving the rest of the breast intact (versus a mastectomy where all of the breast tissue is removed). Luckily, the vast majority of all women who present with breast cancer can be treated with lumpectomy alone.

The surgeon removes the entire lump, as well as a small amount of normal tissue surrounding the lump. This additional tissue is taken to ensure that all if the cancer is removed. Post-operatively, you might think that removing the cancer with clear margins would be adequate, however, studies have shown that radiation is needed in addition to the lumpectomy. This is because the rest of the breast has an increased risk of developing a second malignancy (cancer); about 30% of women who have a lumpectomy without radiation will develop a second primary cancer within 10 years.

Lumpectomy surgery usually takes about one hour to perform, and most patients go back to work within 2-3 days. Your breasts generally look excellent after lumpectomy, because most of the breast tissue is left intact, and because it is possible to fill in the deficit left by the lump with surrounding tissue, so that the shape remains the same. The incisions are small and can usually be hidden in the crease below the breast, or around the nipple or in the armpit.

3 Tips to ask your surgeon before having a lumpectomy: (incision location? General/local? Need service-y type tips here that people can use).

  1. Be sure and ask your surgeon exactly where they are putting the incision. If it is anywhere other than a hidden location, demand that they perform surgery in a cosmetically favorable way. If they say no, get a second opinion.
  2. How big is the incision? Most lumps are 2 centimeters or less and can be removed through small incisions.
  3. How much breast tissue will be removed? This is important because if the a large amount of tissue needs to be removed so that it would make an obvious divot, ask them how they are going to keep your breast looking great. (Some options are having a plastic surgical consult for potential fat grafting or other procedures.

The majority of breast lumps are benign, so if you feel a lump in your breast or if you’re told you have an abnormal mammogram, try not to get too anxious. Take a deep breath and make an appointment with a your doctor or a breast specialist. They may order additional tests such as a diagnostic mammogram (this type of mammogram takes extra views so that the area can be more closely studied); a breast ultrasound, an MRI or a biopsy to rule out cancer.

Bedford Breast Center

Here at Bedford Breast Center, our philosophy is simple: to provide the best breast care to our community. In addition to our world-class facility, we have a dedicated, compassionate expert team to take care of you. Patients who have been diagnosed with breast cancer can expect our breast cancer doctors to provide a comprehensive treatment plan. As for surgical procedures such as lumpectomy surgery, patients can rest assured that incisions are minimal and placed in natural or hidden creases for the best possible cosmetic outcome without compromising cancer cure.

For a consultation on lumpectomy surgery, contact us at (310) 878-0999.