A lumpectomy may also be called a wide local excision or segmental mastectomy. This surgery is the removal of the cancerous lump and a portion of the surrounding breast tissue.
Some patients may also need to have a few lymph nodes removed from the armpit as well, depending on the type of cancer found in the initial biopsy. These patients must also have radiation therapy after surgery to treat the remaining breast tissue. In the right circumstances, this operation and the following radiation treatments can provide the same cure rate as having the whole breast removed.
Some patients may have an obvious change in the shape or size of the breast after this surgery, but most patients are very pleased with the end result. You will be asleep for the one to two hours that it takes to complete this procedure. The size of your incision will vary depending on the size and location of the lump. Some patients may have a small tube coming from the wound that will drain fluid into a small plastic container. The breast tissue and lymph nodes will be sent to pathology immediately, but it may take up to four business days before the results are obtained.
Most patients stay in the hospital overnight with a total recovery period of two to four weeks. The drain will be removed in the office within one week of surgery and the stitches or staples in the incision will be removed within two weeks. Your doctor will talk to you in the office about the pathology report and any further treatment that you may need.