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A lumpectomy is a breast-conserving surgery that removes abnormal or cancerous tissue from the breast. Normal tissue is also extracted around the lump to ensure that all the cancerous tissue is removed. Unlike a mastectomy, which removes the entire breast, a lumpectomy is designed to only remove a smaller portion of the breast.

How does a lumpectomy work?

A lumpectomy is usually performed to verify a diagnosis of cancer or to treat the early stages of cancer. Most commonly, if a woman chooses a lumpectomy, radiation therapy will be required to decrease the chances of the cancer returning.

A lumpectomy preserves a portion of the native breast. However, the radiation treatment, often required after a lumpectomy procedure, may deform the shape and appearance of the remaining breast. In addition, radiation can permanently damage the skin of the breast. It can decrease the blood supply to the skin and subsequently cause it to contract.

Women who have a history of breast radiation who later undergo a mastectomy are at a higher likelihood of having healing problems at the radiated site. In addition, women who choose to pursue a lumpectomy will have to continue breast cancer surveillance (i.e. sonograms, mammograms, MRI). Reconstructive surgery, performed at the time of the lumpectomy (preferable) or after, can help improve the aesthetic appearance of the breast treated with a lumpectomy.

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