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(Partial Mastectomy; Segmentectomy; Tylectomy)


Definition    TOP

Lumpectomy is the removal of cancer. Healthy breast and lymph nodes may also be removed.


Reasons for Procedure    TOP

This is done to treat breast cancer.

Breast Cancer

breast cancer

Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.


Possible Complications    TOP

Problems are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Your doctor will review problems that may happen, such as:

  • Infection
  • 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    TOP

Prior to Procedure

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.


You will have general anesthesia. You will be asleep.

Description of Procedure    TOP

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.

Immediately After Procedure    TOP

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 and radiation therapy may be needed.

How Long Will It Take?    TOP

About 1-3 hours

Will It Hurt?    TOP

Anesthesia will prevent pain during surgery. Pain and discomfort after surgery can be managed with medicines.

Postoperative Care    TOP

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    TOP

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.


American Cancer Society

Breast Cancer


Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation

Canadian Cancer Society


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:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Accessed January 5, 2018.

Lumpectomy: What to expect. Breast Cancer website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
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. BMJ. 2010;340:b5396.

Last reviewed November 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Mohei Abouzied, MD, FACP
Last Updated: 5/22/2018

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