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Lumpectomy

Lumpectomy is surgery to remove cancer. It's a breast-conserving surgery, which means your breast remains intact. There will be one incision on the breast for the lumpectomy procedure. You may also have a second incision under the arm for a sentinel lymph node biopsy, or for removal of the lymph nodes. If you're having a lumpectomy, you'll probably also have radiation therapy.

Breast anatomy with circle around tumor in duct showing tissue to be removed. There are dotted lines above nipple and in armpit to show small curved incision sites.
You will have an incision near the tumor site on the breast for the lumpectomy. You may also have a second incision under the arm, near the lymph nodes, for sentinel node biopsy or lymph node removal.

Before surgery

A week or more before the procedure, you will have an exam and routine tests. Before surgery:

  • Sign any consent forms.

  • Tell your healthcare provider about any medications, herbs, or supplements that you are taking.

  • Avoid eating or drinking for 8 to 12 hours before your surgery.

  • Arrange for a trusted adult to drive you home after surgery.

  • Bring a soft shirt that buttons in front to wear home.

  • Talk to the anesthesia care provider. He or she will explain how you will be kept free of pain during surgery.

During surgery

Your surgeon will make an incision near the tumor site. The tumor and a surrounding margin of normal tissue will be removed. A second incision may also be made under the arm to remove some of the nearby axillary lymph nodes. These are checked to see if the cancer has spread to them. When the surgery is finished, the incisions will be closed using stitches.

When to call your doctor

Call your doctor right away if you have any of the following after surgery:

  • Fever of 100.0°F or higher

  • Increased pain, warmth, drainage, swelling, or redness at the incision

  • Cough or shortness of breath

  • Pain in the chest or calf

  • Bleeding that soaks the dressing

Right after surgery

You will wake up in the recovery room. You may have an IV (intravenous) line for fluids and medications. Pain medications will be given to you as needed. A nurse will check your temperature, pulse, and blood pressure. You'll likely go home the same day.

Online Medical Reviewer: Song, David H, MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Wetter, L Albert, MD
Last Review Date: 12/28/2011
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