There are different types of breast cancer treatments for your doctor to consider. Some things that affect the type of treatment you undergo is the size and type of the cancer. However, surgery is often recommended to remove the tumor, and surgery can be combined with additional treatments like radiation if needed. If the tumor is small, then your doctor may recommend a lumpectomy. Here's a look at what to expect when you have a lumpectomy for breast cancer.
A Lumpectomy Spares Healthy Breast Tissue
A lumpectomy removes the tumor and a border of healthy tissue around it, but the rest of your breast is spared, unlike a mastectomy that removes the breast and is sometimes necessary for large tumors or cancer that has spread. A lumpectomy may be done by itself, or your doctor may remove lymph nodes at the same time. Also, if the tumor is large, reconstructive surgery might be done at the same time. It's also possible that removing the lymph nodes or doing reconstructive surgery will be done at a later date.
A Lumpectomy Might Be An Outpatient Procedure
If you're just having a lumpectomy to remove a small tumor and you're not having additional operations, such as lymph node removal, then you might undergo the procedure as an outpatient. In addition, it might be possible to avoid general anesthesia. If additional surgeries are done at the same time, then a short hospital stay could be required and general anesthesia may be needed. The doctor makes an incision in your breast in a manner that is least likely to cause scars and then removes the cancerous tumor. A drain is often inserted before you're stitched up so fluid won't build up in your breast after the surgery. The drain will connect to a small bulb, and you may need to empty it at home while you recover. The stitches used to close your incision could be the type that dissolve over time, so you won't need to have them removed later.
When the procedure is over, you'll wear a support bra, even at night while you heal. Your breast will have bandages and possibly a drain that you need to maintain until your next doctor's visit when they're removed. Once the drain is out, your doctor may want you to do arm exercises, but you may be encouraged to rest for a few days right after the procedure. If you're having other treatments, such as radiation and chemotherapy, you might begin those within a few weeks after the surgery has had time to heal. Your doctor might recommend these additional treatments to kill off any cancer cells that remain after the lumpectomy.