Lumpectomy (also known as breast conserving surgery, partial mastectomy or wide excision) is a surgery to remove cancer from the breast. Unlike a mastectomy, a lumpectomy removes only the tumor and a small rim of normal tissue around it. So, the breast looks as close as possible to how it did before surgery. Most often, the general shape of the breast and the nipple area are kept.
Learn more about the surgical procedure for lumpectomy.
Radiation therapy is given after lumpectomy to get rid of any cancer cells that may remain.
Women who get radiation therapy after lumpectomy have a 50 percent lower risk of breast cancer recurrence and a 20 percent lower risk of breast cancer death compared to women who get lumpectomy alone .
Overall survival with lumpectomy plus radiation therapy is the same as with mastectomy .
After lumpectomy you may have chemotherapy, hormone therapy and/or targeted therapy.
Lumpectomy plus radiation therapy is an option for most women who have early breast cancer or ductal carcinoma in situ (non-invasive breast cancer). In some cases, it is also an option for women with locally advanced breast cancer. Most women prefer this option to a mastectomy.
Women who are pregnant or who have certain health conditions cannot have radiation therapy and may need to have a mastectomy.
When a large part of the breast is affected by cancer and must be removed to get rid of the tumor(s), a mastectomy may be a better option. This may be the case when:
Although the exact treatment for breast cancer varies from person to person, treatment guidelines help ensure quality care. These guidelines are based on the latest research and the consensus of experts.
The National Comprehensive Care Network (NCCN) and American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) are two respected organizations that regularly update and post their guidelines online. The National Cancer Institute (NCI) also has overviews of treatment options.
Women may choose lumpectomy over mastectomy to keep their breast and have it look (as much as possible) like it did before surgery. Lumpectomy does change the look of the breast though.
Because some tissue is removed, the breast may be smaller and firmer. There will also be a scar and some numbness.
Radiation therapy (usually given after lumpectomy) can also affect the look of the breast. It can further shrink the breast and change its texture or feel.
Sometimes, factors like the location and size of the tumor make it unlikely that a woman will be happy with the look of her breast after lumpectomy. In these cases, mastectomy (with or without breast reconstruction) may be the better option.
In rare cases, a woman may have reconstructive surgery (either at the time of the lumpectomy or later) to maintain a more natural appearance of the breast, or to match the size and shape of the opposite breast. These surgeries are complex. You may wish to meet with a plastic surgeon to discuss your options.
Learn more about breast reconstruction.
You may not live near the hospital where you will have your surgery. Sometimes, there are programs that offer help with local or long-distance transportation and lodging. Some also offer transportation and lodging for a friend or family member going with you. There are also financial assistance programs to help you with child care and elder care.
Learn about transportation, lodging, child care and elder care assistance.
Susan G. Komen’s Breast Care Helpline: 1-877 GO KOMEN (1-877-465-6636)
Calls to our breast care helpline are answered by a trained and caring staff member Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. ET and from 6:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. PT. Our helpline provides free, professional support services to anyone with breast cancer questions or concerns, including breast cancer survivors and their families. You can also email the breast care helpline at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Learn about deciding between lumpectomy and mastectomy.
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Breast Cancer 101 - Lumpectomy
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