Lumpectomy is the removal of cancer. Healthy breast and lymph nodes may also be removed.
Reasons for Procedure
This is done to treat
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Problems are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Your doctor will review problems that may happen, such as:
- Numbness and loss of feeling
- Breasts that do not match in size or shape
- Anesthesia problems
- Lymphedema—swelling of the arm caused by a build up of fluid in the lymph nodes
- Excess bleeding
- Build up of blood or fluid
Some factors that may raise the risk of problems are:
What to Expect
Your doctor will likely do:
- Blood and urine tests
- Wire-localization—if the tumor was viewed on a mammogram, but is not able to be felt, the doctor will use a wire to mark where it is
Talk to your doctor about your medicines. You may be asked to stop taking some medicines up to one week before surgery.
Do not eat or drink for 8-12 hours before surgery.
A small cut will be made in the breast. The tumor will be cut out, along with some of the tissue around it. A cut near the armpit may be made to remove lymph nodes. Plastic tubes for drainage may be put in place. Incisions will be closed with stitches.
Right after the procedure, you will be in a recovery room where your blood pressure, pulse, and breathing will be watched. You may be given medicine to:
- Reduce pain
- Prevent infection
- Prevent blood clots
Removed tissue will be studied. The findings may show if more surgery is needed. If you had cancer and it has spread, chemotherapy
may be needed.
Anesthesia will prevent pain during surgery. Pain and discomfort after surgery can be managed with medicines.
When you get home:
- Limit activities until your doctor says it is okay to resume them.
- Do exercises to promote arm strength. This will help prevent fluid build up in your lymph nodes.
- Follow your doctor's instructions.
Call Your Doctor
Call your doctor if any of these occur:
- Signs of infection, such as fever and chills
- Redness, swelling, pain, bleeding, or discharge from the incision site
- If you have drains, report any problems that your doctor has discussed with you
- Oozing or discharge from nipples on either breast
- A lump, redness, or swelling in either breast
- If lymph nodes were removed: redness, warmth, swelling, stiffness, or hardness in the arm or hand
- Nausea and vomiting
- Pain that you cannot control with the medicines you were given
- Cough, problems breathing, or chest pain
- Pain and swelling in your feet, calves, or legs
- Signs of depression that last longer than 2 weeks
- New or unexpected symptoms
If you think you have an emergency, call for medical help right away.
Breast cancer in women. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T113654/Breast-cancer-in-women. Updated October 20, 2017. Accessed January 5, 2018.
Exercises after breast surgery. American Cancer Society website. Available at:
https://www.cancer.org/cancer/breast-cancer/treatment/surgery-for-breast-cancer/exercises-after-breast-cancer-surgery.html. Updated September 13,2017. Accessed January 5, 2018.
Lumpectomy. Encyclopedia of Surgery website. Available at: http://www.surgeryencyclopedia.com/La-Pa/Lumpectomy.html. Accessed January 5, 2018.
Lumpectomy: What to expect. Breast Cancer website. Available at: http://www.breastcancer.org/treatment/surgery/lumpectomy/expectations. Updated March 4, 2015. Accessed January 5, 2018.
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 December 2017 by EBSCO Medical Review Board
Mohei Abouzied, MD, FACP
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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