What Is a Lumpectomy?

What Is a Lumpectomy?
Dr. June J. Lee Surgeon Smithtown, NY

June Lee, MD is breast surgeon specializing in breast cancer as well as other problems of the breast, including lumps, abnormal imaging studies, and high risk conditions such as brca mutation. Her cutting-edge surgical care includes; the nipple-sparing mastectomy and oncoplastic surgery, which means treating breast problems... more

A lumpectomy is an option for some patients who want to preserve the appearance of the breast. If the tumor is cancerous, you will most likely receive radiation therapy after your lumpectomy. The surgery can help in lowering the risks of recurring breast cancer, and it can also be used to remove precancerous abnormalities. The surgery can help in lowering the risks of recurring breast cancer, and it can also be used to remove precancerous abnormalities. If you have multiple tumors, a very large tumor, or cancer that has spread throughout your breast, a full mastectomy may be recommended over a lumpectomy.  But sometimes we can offer hormonal therapy or chemotherapy to reduce the size of the tumor before surgery. This is called neoadjuvant therapy.

When deciding whether to opt for a lumpectomy, I take a detailed medical history so the patient can determine if this surgery is a good option. Lumpectomies are performed so we can keep the natural look and feel of our patients' breasts, but this is not always the best option.

A lumpectomy is considered a form of breast preservation or breast conserving surgery since the whole breast is not removed. The appearance of a woman's breast can impact her self-esteem and mental and emotional well-being. Not only do women with breast cancer worry about their disease, but they are also rightfully concerned about how their condition will impact the appearance of their bodies.

A lumpectomy can be performed when a woman has just one tumor, and only if it is a small or medium size tumor. In these cases, we can go into the breast and only remove the tumor, leaving the rest of the breast tissue. Many times this procedure is followed by radiation therapy as a method to treat or rid potential cancer cells.

After a lumpectomy, the breast can still have a natural shape and a good cosmetic appearance. And we always provide our patients with realistic expectations and what they can expect after surgery.

Unfortunately for women who have a history of cancer, patients with multiple tumors, patients who have previously undergone radiation, and women who cannot receive radiation after surgery, a lumpectomy is not an option. At this point, the patient chooses between mastectomy with reconstruction or a mastectomy without reconstruction and we help the patient make this decision by providing all of the information we can about the specific condition and options.

With each patient, we review her medical history, exam and images in detail. We explain her options for surgery and talk about how to manage the disease and her specific condition.

If a patient wants to undergo reconstructive surgery after a procedure, we talk about this as well and bring in our plastic and reconstruction surgery team.

During a lumpectomy, a small incision is made over the tumor. The surgeon will remove the tumor as well as a small portion of tissue that surrounds the tumor, because this tissue may have also been affected by cancerous cells. Sometimes, lymph nodes under the arm are also removed if necessary. Another small incision will be made near the armpit to remove the lymph nodes.

Any tissue that is removed during the surgery is sent to a lab for testing. Drains are often inserted so any excess fluid can be removed from the area where the breast tissue was taken out. After the incisions are closed, a sterile bandage will be wrapped around the surgical site to protect you from infection and help you heal. After a lumpectomy, patients typically stay in the hospital for less than two days, while mastectomy patients are usually there for three days.