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Lumpectomy, wide excision, segmentectomy, and partial mastectomy are known as breast-conserving surgeries. Only the malignant area and a small portion of the surrounding healthy tissue are removed. Sometimes, lymph nodes under the arm are also removed (axillary dissection). This procedure is almost always followed by a course of radiation therapy.
Effect of Lumpectomy on Breast Cancer
Today, breast-conserving surgeries are the preferred type of surgery for eligible women in the early stages of cancer. Studies have shown that breast-conserving surgeries combined with radiation therapy are just as effective as mastectomy in the early stages of breast cancer. However, not all women with stage I or II breast cancer are eligible for this type of surgery. Conditions that might make you ineligible for this procedure include:
- Multiple tumors in different areas of the breast (multicentric tumors)
- One tumor spread throughout the breast (diffuse tumor)
- Tumor located directly beneath the nipple
- A tumor that is large in relation to breast size
- History of scleroderma, systemic lupus, or dermatopolymyositis
- Current pregnancy in the first or second trimester (The radiation used with breast-conserving surgery can injure a fetus.)
- Previous high-dose radiation therapy to the affected breast
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Complications are rare, but no procedure is completely free of risk. If you are planning to have a lumpectomy, your doctor will review a list of possible complications, which may include:
- Accumulation of blood in the wound
- Accumulation of clear fluid in the wound
- Numbness of the nipple or underarm skin
- Change in the size and/or shape of the breast
- Blood clots
- Reaction to anesthesia
Some factors that may increase the risk of complications include:
- Poor nutrition
- Recent or long-term illness
- Use of certain medicines
- Characteristics of the tumor to be removed
Call Your Doctor
After arriving home, contact your doctor if any of the following occurs:
- Signs of infection, including fever and chills
- Redness, swelling, increasing pain, excessive 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/or vomiting that you cannot control with the medicines you were given after surgery or that persist for more than two days after discharge from the hospital
- Pain that you cannot control with the medicines you have been given
- Cough, shortness of breath, or chest pain
- New, unexplained symptoms
If you think you have an emergency, CALL 911.
Breast cancer. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: http://www.cancer.gov . Accessed January 27, 2006.
Breast cancer. Womens' Health.gov website. Available at: http://www.4woman.gov . Accessed January 27, 2006.
Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation website. Available at: http://www.komen.org . Accessed January 31, 2006.
Way LW, Doherty GM. Current Surgical Diagnosis and Treatment . 10th ed. Appleton and Lange; 1994.
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