What Does Lumpectomy Surgery Involve?

If you have been diagnosed with breast cancer or there are concerns that you may have breast cancer following a mammogram or other examination then you may have been referred by your Doctor for lumpectomy surgery.

You probably have a few questions and concerns, so let’s talk about what a lumpectomy procedure involves and what next steps you should expect.

What Does a Lumpectomy Surgery Involve?

A lumpectomy procedure is done when a cancerous area in the breast is identified usually by a mammogram and then core needle aspiration which has removed a sample of the lump and it has been tested by pathology to confirm a presence of cancerous cells.

The lumpectomy procedure involves surgically removing the lump and some surrounding tissue from the breast so that the cancer is no longer in the breast for the cancer to spread, and so that the lump can be further tested to see whether there is a confirmed diagnosis of breast cancer.

Your lumpectomy surgeon will assess how much breast tissue does need to be removed and will also consider the aesthetic results of the surgery as well, including where to make incisions to minimalize visible scarring, and also not to leave one breast looking different from the other breast, so planning for carrying out reconstructive surgery to ensure symmetry.  Usually incisions are made in the natural lines and creases of the body such as underneath the breasts, under the armpit or around the areola so that these scars when they heal will be camouflaged or hidden.

What Treatment is Required After a Lumpectomy?

Following the lumpectomy procedure the doctor will be able to make a decision based on test results and possible a further mammogram, on what further treatment may be required to ensure that  breast cancer is fully eradicated from both breasts.  One option is to give you a course of medication which can either be in pill form or through IV.  Or perhaps radiation therapy may be required, which projects radiation directly onto the site of the cancer to ensure complete eradication and unlikely recurrence of cancer.

Radiation can change the physical appearance of the breast so reconstructive surgery on your breasts would take place until you have complete all of your post lumpectomy procedure treatments.

Your doctor will make the decision of which treatments you require on a patient by patient basis taking into this decisions many factors.  The factors include the results of pathology tests, images from mammogram x-rays, ultrasound imagery, findings when carrying out the lumpectomy, and your response to any earlier treatments.  In an ideal world you would choose for yourself which treatments to have, but your doctor will always advise on what they think will reassure them and you to the breast cancer has been totally eradicated.

For patients with non-cancerous lumps, a non surgical lumpectomy procedure is an option, which includes a small incision and then a needle to slowly extract the lump and its content.  This isn’t an option for cancer as not all of the cells will be removed.

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