Lumpectomy is a surgical procedure in which a tumor together with a small portion of surrounding tissue of the breast is removed. The resected part is then pathologically examined to determine whether the lump is malignant or benign. Together with lumpectomy surgeon conducts sentinel lymph node biopsy in order to make first line lymph nodes visible and remove them together with the lump if necessary.
Lumpectomy is also known as partial mastectomy, wedge resection, breast conserving therapy, wide excision biopsy, segmental excision. Earlier the cancer was surgically treated with radical mastectomy (complete removal of the breast tissue together with the tumor and sometimes surrounding tissue such as muscles). Nowadays some people still have to be treated with this method while others can undergo lumpectomy. Lumpectomy is not recommended for the women who have multiple cancers in separate locations, have had prior lumpectomy followed by radiotherapy, extensive cancers, problematic and large tumors (those which grow quickly or are attached to surrounding structures such as chest wall or skin), are pregnant, have preexisting diseases and those who have already undergone radiation treatment due to other malignant diseases (such as Hodgkin lymphoma).
The procedure is conducted under general anesthesia. The tumor together with the surrounding tissue is removed. After that the surgeon reconstructs the breast. If after conducting the sentinel node biopsy the first line lymph node which is during the procedure resected is confirmed to have metastatic cells , the procedure extends to axilla when its lymph nodes are resected as well. The drainage tube is inserted during the operation and it is removed afterward. The procedure takes maximum three hours.
Recovery time starts in recovery room where a patient spends minimum time. If they are kept in hospital they are released after a day or two, but most go home the same day. The patients have to follow the surgeon's instructions. Painkillers are always prescribed and generally pain goes away after two or three days. What may helps in pain reduction is an ice bag over the incision line. This can only be recommended by the doctor. Most women can continue their daily activities within two weeks, but have to avoid lifting heavy objects with the arm on the operated side for a long period. The doctor will probably suggest patient to wear right size bra for a week after the surgery. What follows are regular check-ups when doctor decides on the following treatment and therapy. If tumor is proved to be malignant standard scheme of postoperative chemotherapy and radiation are involved. These may be administered after healing is complete.