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Lumpectomy is a surgery to remove cancer from the breast. Unlike mastectomy, lumpectomy removes only the tumor and a small rim of normal tissue around it. It leaves most of the breast skin and tissue in place.
With lumpectomy, 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 preserved.
Lumpectomy is also called breast conserving surgery, partial mastectomy and wide excision.
With a lumpectomy, the surgeon makes an incision (cut) in the breast and removes the tumor, along with a small rim of normal tissue around it.
Learn more about the surgical procedure and what to expect before and after a lumpectomy.
Radiation therapy is usually given after lumpectomy to get rid of any cancer cells that might be left in or around the breast. These cells are too small to see on mammograms or other imaging tests, or to measure with lab tests.
Radiation therapy can lower the risk of :
Survival with lumpectomy plus radiation therapy is the same as with mastectomy .
After lumpectomy, chemotherapy, hormone therapy and/or HER2-targeted therapy may also be given.
Lumpectomy plus radiation therapy is an option for most women who have early breast cancer or ductal carcinoma in situ (non-invasive breast cancer).
Lumpectomy may also be an option for some women with locally advanced breast cancer after treatment with neoadjuvant therapy (drug therapy given before surgery).
In some cases, neoadjuvant therapy can shrink a tumor enough so lumpectomy plus radiation therapy becomes an option, instead of mastectomy.
Not everyone can have radiation therapy. Being pregnant, having certain health conditions or having some inherited gene mutations can make radiation therapy harmful.
A mastectomy may be the best surgical option when:
Although the exact treatment for breast cancer varies from person to person, guidelines help ensure high-quality care. These guidelines are based on the latest research and agreement among experts.
The National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) and the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) are respected organizations that regularly review and update their guidelines.
In addition, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) has treatment overviews.
Talk with your health care providers about which treatment guidelines they use.
Women may choose lumpectomy over mastectomy to keep their breast and have it look (as much as possible) like it did before surgery.
However, lumpectomy will change the look and feel of the breast. Because some tissue is removed, the breast may be smaller. There will also be a scar and some numbness. Ask your health care provider about products that might help reduce the appearance of the scar.
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 make the breast feel firmer.
The look and feel of your breast will continue to change during the first 1-2 years after surgery and radiation therapy.
Sometimes, things like the location and size of the tumor make it unlikely 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 breast reconstruction (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 other breast.
These surgeries are complex, so it’s best to meet with a plastic surgeon to discuss your options.
You may not live near the hospital where you'll have your surgery.
Sometimes, there are programs that 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 programs to help with child care and elder care costs.
Learn about transportation, lodging, child care and elder care assistance programs.
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. Our helpline provides free, professional support services to anyone who has questions or concerns about breast cancer, including people diagnosed with breast cancer and their families.
You can also email the 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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