Lumpectomy

Lumpectomy (lum-PEK-tuh-me) is surgery to remove cancer or other abnormal tissue from your breast.

Lumpectomy is also called breast-conserving surgery or wide local excision because — unlike a mastectomy — only a portion of the breast is removed. Doctors may also refer to lumpectomy as an excisional biopsy.

During lumpectomy, a small amount of normal tissue around the lump (also described as clean or normal margins of breast tissue) also is taken to help ensure that all the cancer or other abnormal tissue is removed.

Lumpectomy helps confirm a diagnosis of cancer or rule it out. Lumpectomy is also a first treatment option for some women with early-stage breast cancer. In cases where cancer is found, lumpectomy usually is followed by radiation therapy to the breast to reduce the chances of cancer returning.


Why it's done Risks How you prepare What you can expect Results

The goal of lumpectomy is to remove cancer or other abnormal tissue while maintaining the appearance of your breast. Studies indicate that lumpectomy is as effective a treatment in preventing a recurrence of breast cancer as removal of the entire breast (mastectomy) for women with early-stage breast cancer.

Your doctor may recommend lumpectomy if a biopsy has shown that you have cancer and that the cancer is believed to be small and early stage. Lumpectomy may also be used to remove certain noncancerous or precancerous breast abnormalities.

You may not be a candidate for lumpectomy for breast cancer if you:

  • Have a history of scleroderma, a group of diseases that harden skin and other tissues and make healing after lumpectomy difficult
  • Have a history of systemic lupus erythematosus, a chronic inflammatory disease that can worsen if you undergo radiation treatments
  • Have two or more tumors in different quadrants of your breast that cannot be removed with a single wide excision, which could affect the appearance of your breast
  • Have previously had radiation treatment to the breast region, which would make further radiation treatments too risky
  • Have cancer spread throughout your breast and overlying skin, since lumpectomy would be unlikely to remove the cancer completely
  • Have a large tumor and small breasts, which may cause a poor cosmetic result
  • Don't have access to radiation therapy
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