A lumpectomy, also known as breast conservation surgery, is a surgical procedure to remove cancer cells while keeping as much of the breast as possible. The breast tissue that contains cancer cells along with an outline of normal tissue is removed.

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Answers to Your Lumpectomy Questions

A lumpectomy, also known as breast conservation surgery, is one type of surgery to manage breast cancer. This surgery may also be referred to as a segmentectomy, quadrantectomy or partial mastectomy. 

A lumpectomy involves removal of the cancerous tumor with a small amount of surrounding normal breast tissue, which is referred to as the margin. Breast conservation leaves most of the breast tissue and skin, nipple and areola in place.

Sometimes this surgery can be done by feeling the cancer through the skin or looking at it in the operating room (OR) using imaging tools like an ultrasound. However, most of the time cancer is not easily seen or felt by the surgeon. In these cases, needle localization, which is commonly performed by a radiologist on the morning of

surgery, is needed to locate the cancer in the breast. Needle localization uses images from a mammogram or ultrasound to locate the cancer. The breast is then numbed and a small needle and wire are placed into the breast to guide the surgeon to the mass. Once the needle and wire are in place, the patient is taken to the OR to have the cancer removed. When the tissue is removed, it is sent to the radiologist to confirm that the cancer has been removed. The surgeon will often leave metal markers in the breast where the surgery was done. These markers help identify the area on future mammograms and may be helpful for patients who also need radiation treatments. Markers are not seen or felt by the patient and are not harmful.

Most patients who have breast conservation surgery will also need radiation treatments. This should be discussed with your doctor while you are making a treatment plan before surgery.

  • Allows you to keep most of the breast tissue and skin, the nipple and areola in place.

  • Rarely need reconstruction.

  • Often outpatient surgery.

  • Short recovery time.

  • Often require radiation treatments that may last up to seven weeks.

  • Surgery and radiation treatments may change the color, shape, and texture of the breast, possibly leaving an unwanted appearance.

  • Higher risk of recurrent or new breast cancer in remaining breast tissue.

  • Will require frequent imaging and physical exams to assess for recurrent or new breast cancers.

  • May require more surgery in the future to remove recurrent or new breast cancer.

Your surgeon will inform you if you need to see an anesthesiologist prior to your surgery. A surgery office staff member will assist you in arranging these appointments.

Insurance approval will be done by the billing offices. Precertification is done according to your insurance requirements.

You will be given discharge instructions before leaving the hospital the day of your procedure. Your surgeon’s office will likely review some of the post-op instructions with you before your surgery and will have specific instructions or handouts for you regarding your particular procedure.

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