Lumpectomy refers to the surgical removal of a lump or mass from the breast. During a typical lumpectomy procedure, your surgeon will remove a lump, be it cancerous or benign, from the breast along with some nearby healthy tissue to make sure nothing was left behind.

The procedure can be performed in both men and women. Lumpectomy may be part of the treatment plan for ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) and invasive ductal carcinoma, two common types of breast cancer.

What to Expect from Lumpectomy

Lumpectomy is sometimes called wedge resection, breast conserving therapy, wide excision biopsy, tylectomy or segmental excision. The tumor and surrounding tissue are initially removed for the purpose of testing. Nearby lymph nodes may also be removed. If cancer is found, additional treatment may be necessary.

Lumpectomy is one type of partial mastectomy. Even though the procedure doesn’t require the removal of the breast, it does eliminate some breast tissue. The amount of breast tissue removed during lumpectomy depends on the size and nature of the tumor. The amount of tissue removal can vary greatly from case to case. In some instances, a full quadrantectomy may be required, where approximately one-quarter of the breast tissue is removed.

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A lumpectomy is relatively non-invasive, especially when compared to a full mastectomy. This is why lumpectomy is often referred to as a type of “breast preservation” or “breast conservation” surgery. A lumpectomy is far less traumatic, both physically and emotionally, than a full mastectomy.

What if Lumpectomy Reveals Cancer?

When cancer is present, a lumpectomy is usually performed in combination with other procedures. For instance, if the patient suffers from DCIS, the lumpectomy procedure may be performed along with a lymph node biopsy and radiation therapy. As a treatment for invasive ductal carcinoma lumpectomy may also include chemotherapy.

In some cases, a lumpectomy might not be the appropriate course of action. For instance, you are unlikely to receive lumpectomy if:

  • You have multiple cancers in the same breast.
  • You previously had a lumpectomy with radiation.
  • Cancer is widespread.

Pregnant women are also often poor candidates for lumpectomy if it is combined with radiation therapy, since there is potential to cause harm to the fetus. In these instances, tumors larger than 5 centimeters in diameter must be treated delicately to avoid disfiguring the breast.

If you notice signs of a breast lump or if a recent mammogram has revealed a lump, talk to a breast-dedicated surgeon as soon as possible. At Breastlink, we will work with you to determine a course of action appropriate for your diagnosis, your lifestyle and your personal values.