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Breast Cancer Surgery – Lumpectomy or Mastectomy

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The first type of treatment many will undergo with breast cancer is surgical removal of any cancerous tumors. The surgery type that you chose will depend on the size of the tumor, aggressiveness of the cancer and even the outcome you can live with. In this article, the two types of surgeries discussed will be lumpectomy and mastectomy, but there are actually seven breast cancer surgery options:

Lymph node removal
Breast reconstruction
Prophylactic mastectomy

Prophylactic removal


As BreastCancer.org defines it, a lumpectomy is the removal of the breast tumor and some of the normal tissue that surrounds it. Sometimes, this term is used interchangeably with terms like biopsy, partial mastectomy, re-excision, quandrantecomy or wedge resection. This is true even though with each of the procedural terms listed, the amount of breast tissue may vary. Therefore, get a full understanding of how much breast is going to be removed during your consult with your doctor.

The following are pros and cons of a lumpectomy as indicated by BreastCancer.org:
The main advantage of lumpectomy is that it can preserve much of the appearance and sensation of your breast. It is a less invasive surgery, so your recovery time is shorter and easier than with a mastectomy.

You are likely to have five to seven weeks of radiation therapy, five days per week, after lumpectomy surgery to make sure the cancer is gone.

Radiation therapy may affect the timing of reconstruction and possibly your reconstruction options after surgery. Radiation therapy also may affect your options for later surgery to lift or balance your breasts.

There is a somewhat higher risk of developing a local recurrence of the cancer after lumpectomy than after mastectomy. However, local recurrence can be treated successfully with mastectomy.

The breast cannot safely tolerate additional radiation if there is a recurrence in the same breast after lumpectomy. This is true for either a recurrence of the same cancer, or for a new cancer. If you have a second cancer in the same breast, your doctor will usually recommend that you have a mastectomy.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.