Lumpectomy is the removal of cancer in the breast. Healthy breast and lymph nodes may also be removed.
Reasons for Procedure
A lumpectomy is a treatment
option for breast cancer.
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Problems are rare, but all procedures have some risk. The 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
—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
Prior to Procedure
The doctor may use a wire to help mark tumors that can be seen on images but not felt. This process is called wire localization.
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 to 12 hours before surgery.
Description of Procedure
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 may also be made near the armpit to remove lymph nodes. Plastic tubes for drainage may be put in place. Incisions will be closed with stitches.
Immediately After Procedure
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,
may be needed.
How Long Will It Take?
About 1 to 3 hours
Will It Hurt?
Anesthesia will prevent pain during surgery. Pain and discomfort after surgery can be managed with medicines.
Some movement will be limited in first few days or weeks.
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
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 website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T113654/Breast-cancer-in-women. Accessed January 5, 2021.
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. Accessed January 5, 2021.
Lumpectomy. Encyclopedia of Surgery website. Available at: http://www.surgeryencyclopedia.com/La-Pa/Lumpectomy.html. Accessed January 5, 2021.
Lumpectomy: What to expect. Breast Cancer website. Available at: http://www.breastcancer.org/treatment/surgery/lumpectomy/expectations. Accessed January 5, 2021.
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 January 2021 by
EBSCO Medical Review Board
Mohei Abouzied, MD, FACP
Last Updated: 1/22/2021