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A lumpectomy is a surgical procedure used to diagnose or treat breast cancer. The procedure removes the breast lump and a margin of healthy tissue. The rest of the breast is left intact.

Who is a candidate for the procedure?

A woman is a candidate for lumpectomy if the following conditions apply:
  • A diagnosis of breast cancer is suspected.
  • The size and location of the cancer are such that removal of the lump will still result in the remaining breast being acceptable to the woman.
  • Cancer is only in a single site within the breast.
  • The cancer to be removed is not a recurrence of cancer previously found in that breast.

How is the procedure performed?

The woman is put to sleep with conscious sedation or general anesthesia. The skin over the affected breast, chest, and upper arm is cleaned. An incision is made around the previous biopsy site and the surrounding skin is removed. The goal is to remove all of the cancerous breast tissue and leave the rest of the breast intact.
Bleeding is stopped and the wound is irrigated. A small drain may be placed in the wound. The incision is carefully closed to minimize scarring. Some lymph nodes under the arm may be removed to see if cancer has spread. This is called an axillary node dissection. It requires a separate incision in the underarm area. A small drain may be used here, too.
The incision is carefully closed to minimize scarring. The breast tissue and lymph nodes removed are sent to a lab for analysis. Bandages are applied and the woman is awakened.

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