A lumpectomy is the removal of the breast cancer and a portion of normal tissue surrounding the mass. This surgery is a more conservative approach to treating breast cancer than a complete mastectomy. During a lumpectomy, less natural breast tissue is removed than with a mastectomy, leaving the patient with less pain, less disfiguration and a faster recovery.
A woman’s physician will work with her to determine if a lumpectomy is the appropriate decision. Physicians consider many factors, including:
- Size and location of the mass
- Type and stage of the breast cancer
- Size of the breast
- Patient’s preference
When performing the procedure, the surgeon may also remove some lymph nodes from under the arm to determine if the cancer has spread. This is called a sentinel node biopsy. If your surgeon cannot feel the lump to be removed, the radiologist will insert a guide wire into your breast prior to surgery to pinpoint the area of concern; this is called a needle-localization.
Generally following a lumpectomy, radiation treatment is administered to destroy any cancer cells that may not have been removed during the surgery.