As the name suggests, a lumpectomy involves removing a lump, typically from the breast.
In India, according to Globocan data, of all forms of cancer reported in 2020, breast cancer accounted for 13.5%. So, we see that breast cancer is the commonest form of cancer.
Lumpectomy is a surgical procedure that we also call “breast-conserving surgery,” “wide local excision,” “quadrantectomy,” or “excisional biopsy.” The primary objective of this surgery is to remove cancer cells while conserving the breast.
We also call this lump removal surgery “partial mastectomy” because it involves only partial removal of the breast tissue as opposed to complete breast removal in the case of a mastectomy.
A lumpectomy is a type of breast surgery that involves the removal of a small section of breast tissue. Doctors perform this procedure to remove a malignant tumour along with some healthy tissue to ensure that all the cancer tissue has been eliminated.
If patients have a tiny lump in their breast (sometimes hardly detectible except through a scan), our doctors might recommend a breast lumpectomy.
Patients should not be alarmed; it is a minor outpatient surgery, which means they can go home the same day. However, this breast-conserving surgery is performed under general anaesthesia.
Doctors perform a lumpectomy to remove cancer cells from otherwise healthy breast tissue. The aim of the procedure is to get rid of cancer cells while preserving the appearance of the breast.
We recommend that women undergo annual mammograms from age 40 and above. Even a tiny, microscopic lump in the breast can be detected in women within this age group.
If a scan reveals abnormal breast growth, our doctors will most probably recommend lumpectomy surgery. The prospect of undergoing this procedure should not be of too much concern, especially if detected early.
Early detection usually ensures that the breast can be preserved. Statistically, the highest chance of complete recovery is from a breast lump surgery, especially if a mammogram reveals malignancy in the early stages.
This operation can also serve to remove precancerous or noncancerous tissue from a patient’s breast.
Sometimes we may advise against a lump removal surgery in case of the following conditions:
- History of scleroderma (a skin-hardening disease)
- Systematic lupus erythematosus (a chronic inflammatory disease aggravated by radiation treatment)
- Multiple tumours in the breast
- Previous history of radiation treatment in the breast
- Cancer elsewhere in the body
- A large tumour and small breasts, wherein the shape of the breast could become misshapen and plastic surgery might not work.
In preparation for a breast lumpectomy, here are a few things patients can do to know what to expect:
- Have a discussion with their doctor, who will outline the procedure.
- Read the consent form carefully and ask questions.
- Provide facts about their medical history. The information should include everything, particularly information regarding allergies or bleeding disorders.
- The doctor should also be informed if the patient is pregnant.
- A list of the patient’s current medications should be submitted.
- The patient should listen carefully, understand the instructions and information provided by the healthcare provider, and try to relax.
While a breast lumpectomy is performed to eliminate cancer cells, we also remove some of the lymph nodes located under the arm if we suspect that cancer has spread to that area.
If the lump is small, we perform a standard lumpectomy surgery. In case of a bigger lump, an oncoplastic operation might be required, which involves a bit of plastic surgery to restore the shape of the breast. The procedure takes about an hour.
The cancer cells are the same colour as the breast tissue. So, we will mark the affected area with a wire or chip before proceeding. After being prepped for the surgery, we will administer general anaesthesia to the patient, who will sleep peacefully throughout the procedure.
During breast lump surgery, we remove the lump and a portion of the surrounding tissue. The patient receives painkiller injections at the operation site. We then place marking clips in the breast tissue to identify where to focus the radiation at a later date.
Finally, we stitch up the incision with dissolvable stitches. The patient wakes up in a recovery room and, if all goes well, is sent back home the same day.
It may take up to two weeks or more to recover from lump removal surgery. The patient experiences weakness and some pain during the first few days. The healing time depends on the size of the lump removed and the patient’s general health.
Breast lump surgery is not something to take lightly. Patients must take utmost care of their health to facilitate complete healing. Understandably, there will be some pain for which we will prescribe pain medication.
Before leaving the hospital, we instruct the patient on the dos and don’ts to take care of themself once back home. This information includes:
- How to take care of the incision, including instructions on changing dressings
- Medication information with dosages and when to take them
- When to start shoulder exercises and how to do them
- When to wear a bra again and resume normal activities, including bathing
- What warning signs to look for when there is an issue like swelling, fluid build-up in the breast, redness, or increased pain
It is important for patients to take care of themselves after a lumpectomy and follow the instructions given by the healthcare provider. In case of any warning signs like the ones mentioned above, the patient should visit their doctor immediately.
Even the smallest of surgeries carry a certain element of risk. Following lump removal surgery, there could be some bleeding at the incision site, swelling of the breast, change in the breast size and shape, or infection.
There could also be an accumulation of a clear fluid (seroma) in the breast, which we can drain off. Scar tissue could also form, and if lymph nodes were removed, the patient could also experience some pain and swelling in the arm.
It is understandably upsetting news if patients’ test results reveal cancer cells in the breast. However, a regular self-breast exam and annual screening after age 40 greatly increase the chances of detecting breast cancer early.
Early detection calls for a lumpectomy, the simplest form of breast surgery, to be successfully treated in a well-equipped hospital. C.K. Birla Hospital’s Breast Centre is the best place to get screened for breast cancer surgery and avail of follow-up treatment.
Our facilities include a comprehensive breast screening program and state-of-the-art scarless breast-conserving surgery procedures.
We also have a faculty of highly-qualified breast cancer surgeons who have completed over 5,000 surgeries successfully. Our chemo daycare lounge, 24/7 in-house radiology and diagnostic services are also worthy mentions.
Visit C.K. Birla Hospital’s Breast Centre, or book an appointment with Dr. Rohan Khandelwal to receive guidance on how to proceed.