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:
Some factors that may increase the risk of complications include:
Your doctor will likely do the following:
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.
General anesthesia—you will be asleep during the procedure
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:
About 1-3 hours
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:
If you think you have an emergency, call for medical help right away.
Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation
Canadian Cancer Society
Breast cancer in women. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated November 7, 2014. Accessed November 26, 2014.
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's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: 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. BMJ. 2010;340:b5396.
Last reviewed November 2015 by Donald Buck, MD Last Updated: 12/20/2014