Lumpectomy is the removal of part of the breast. It is considered a breast-conserving surgery.
Lumpectomy may be combined with a procedure to sample lymph nodes in the area (axillary dissection or
sentinel node biopsy).
Problems from the procedure are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Your doctor will review potential problems, like: Accumulation of blood in the woundAccumulation of clear fluid in the woundLymphedema—swelling of the arm caused by accumulation of fluid in lymph nodes
InfectionNumbness of the nipple or underarm skinChange in the size and/or shape of the breastBlood clotsReaction to anesthesia
Some factors that may increase the risk of complications include: ObesityPoor nutritionSmokingRecent or long-term illnessUse of certain medicationsCharacteristics of the tumor to be removed
Your doctor will likely do the following: Physical examMammogramFine needle biopsy
to test the breast tissue for cancer
Blood and urine testsWire-localization procedure—if the tumor was visible on mammogram, but is not able to be felt, the doctor will use a wire to mark the tumor
Talk to your doctor about your medications. You may be asked to stop taking some medications up to 1 week before the procedure.
Do not eat or drink anything for 8-12 hours before surgery, unless your doctor tells you otherwise.
A small cut will be made in the breast. The tumor will be cut out, along with some of the surrounding tissue. Another incision near the armpit may be made so that lymph nodes can be removed. The nipple and areola will not be removed. Plastic tubes for drainage may be inserted. The incisions will be closed with stitches.
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Right after the procedure, you will be in a recovery room where your blood pressure, pulse, and breathing will be monitored. Recovery may also include: Pain medicationsAntibiotics to prevent infectionMedication to prevent blood clots
Removed tissue will be examined. The findings may determine if any further surgery is needed. If you had cancer and it has spread,
may be needed.
Anesthesia will prevent pain during the procedure. Pain and discomfort after the procedure can be managed with medications.
The breast may change in size or shape after lumpectomy. There may be local skin discoloration from dye used to localize lymph nodes for biopsy. The dye may also discolor your urine for a short time after surgery.
Self-care measures and medications will help ease discomfort. Activity may be restricted for up to 1 month, but complete rest is not necessary. The care staff will help you with exercises to help maintain arm strength and prevent lymphedema. To prevent infection at the incision site, follow instructions on how to clean and care for the wound.
Contact your doctor if your recovery is not progressing as expected or you develop complications, such as: Signs of infection, including fever and chillsRedness, swelling, increasing pain, excessive bleeding, or discharge from the incision siteIf you have drains, report any problems that your doctor has discussed with youOozing or discharge from nipples on either breastA lump, redness, or swelling in either breastIf lymph nodes were removed: redness, warmth, swelling, stiffness, or hardness in the arm or handPersistent nausea and/or vomitingPain that you cannot control with the medications you've been givenCough, shortness of breath, or chest painPain and/or swelling in your feet, calves, or legsSymptoms of depression that last at least 2 weeks or longerNew or unexpected symptoms
If you think you have an emergency, call for medical help right away.
Exercises after breast surgery. American Cancer Society website. Available at:
http://www.cancer.org/cancer/breastcancer/moreinformation/exercises-after-breast-surgery. Updated June 19, 2013. Accessed November 26, 2014.
Lumpectomy. Surgery Encyclopedia website. Available at: http://www.surgeryencyclopedia.com/La-Pa/Lumpectomy.html. Accessed November 26, 2014.
Lumpectomy: What to expect. Breast Cancer website. Available at: http://www.breastcancer.org/treatment/surgery/lumpectomy/expectations. Updated September 17, 2012. Accessed November 26, 2014.
1/22/2010 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillance
http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T113654/Breast-cancer-in-women: Torres Lacomba M, Yuste Sánchez MJ, Zapico Goñi A, et al. Effectiveness of early physiotherapy to prevent lymphoedema after surgery for breast cancer: randomised, single blinded, clinical trial.
Last reviewed November 2015 by Donald Buck, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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