Lumpectomy vs Mastectomy (Part One of Two)

When a woman is faced with the prospect of choosing a lumpectomy versus a full mastectomy, there are a number of considerations she will need to weigh. We’ll look at the contrasts in two, separate posts, with this being the first.

Basically, a lumpectomy is a partial removal of a more concentrated area, while trying to keep her breast appearance and sensations (feeling) as much as possible.

Lumpectomy: Advantages and disadvantages:

  • Better preserves appearance and sensation of the breast.
  • Less invasive procedure.
  • Faster recovery period.

Lumpectomy has a few potential disadvantages:

  • Possible 5 to 7 weeks of radiation therapy, 5 days per week, after lumpectomy surgery to ensure the cancer is gone.
  • Radiation therapy could affect/delay possibilities for future reconstruction and/or other options.
  • There is a higher risk of a local recurrence with lumpectomy (mastectomy greatly reduces this risk of occurrence.)
  • Your breast cannot tolerate radiation treatment if there is a recurrence. Your doctor will then probably recommend a mastectomy.
  • You may need to have one or more additional surgeries after your initial lumpectomy. During lumpectomy, the surgeon removes the cancer along with some of the normal, surrounding the tumor. This area is called the margins. A pathologist will inspect to see if cancer cells exist within the margins. If there are, more tissue will need to be removed until the margins are free of cancer. Ideally, this is all done during the lumpectomy; however, analyzing the margins can take as long as a week. If cancer cells are found after the first excision, a re-excision will have to be performed. Some women prefer not to go through a procedure that feels like yet another, full surgery.

Granted, this is a lot to take in, and the best thing to do if you’re facing either of these considerations is to consult with your surgeon and staff. Of course, make sure your surgeon is ASPS Board Certified, with a good success rate.

Next up: The advantages and disadvantages of mastectomy surgery.

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