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Breast lump removal (Lumpectomy)

What is a breast lump removal?

A breast lump removal (otherwise known as a lumpectomy) is a surgical procedure in which a lump in the breast is removed. Not all lumps found in the breast are cancerous, and Dr. Noorbhai will do a biopsy to test for abnormal cancer calls when the lumpectomy is done. 

How is a breast lump removal done?

Once under general anaesthesia, an incision is made in the breast, between 2 and 5 cm in length. When possible, he will make the incision in a place where it is mostly hidden to produce an excellent cosmetic result. Usually, lumps aren’t large enough to make changes to the size and shape of the breast when removed. Once the lump and a small amount of the surrounding tissue is removed, a sample of it is sent for testing to see if abnormal cells are present.

During this surgery, he may also wish to remove the lymph nodes under your arms if he believes the lump is cancerous or has been found cancerous through previous tests. Finally, your surgeon will close the incision with absorbable stitches or surgical staples.

Why would a breast lump be removed?

A lumpectomy is done to remove a possibly cancerous lump from the breast and as a way of attacking cancer in its early stages if you have been diagnosed with cancer. Whether or not you are able to have a lumpectomy or mastectomy (removal of the entire breast) will depend on the size of the lump and whether or not the lump is cancerous. A lumpectomy is the least invasive of the two and is able to keep breast symmetry, and is therefore preferred in some cases. If you have been diagnosed with cancer, chemotherapy and radiation may be advised in combination with a lumpectomy.

How long will I be in hospital?

Most patients are able to go home on the same day as surgery. How soon you will be discharged from hospital depends on whether you are able to drink liquids when waking up, how much pain you have and whether you have someone to look after you at home.

What will happen after surgery?

Following a breast lump removal you may experience the following:

  • Pain in your breast.
  • Itching and sensitivity as nerves grow back.
  • Inability to lift your arms due to the incision.
  • Red skin around your wounds.

All these symptoms are normal and are nothing to be concerned about. Re-consult if you have an unusually high temperature, chills, vomiting, swelling around the incisions, bleeding or you are experiencing excessive pain as emergency care may be needed. Approximately 3 weeks after your operation you will be seen by your surgeon to check your wounds and drainage.

After surgery, you will be instructed on how to care for your incisions. You may be given instructions to keep the wound dry and be given arm exercises. Resting, wearing a sports bra and arm exercises should aid your healing and make you more comfortable.

It may be necessary to have a follow-up surgery if the biopsy results conclude that the lump is cancerous, and a mastectomy is advised. If the tumour is rather large, you may have symmetry problems that require reconstructive surgery.

How soon after the surgery can I resume normal activities?

You will be able to resume normal activities soon after your surgery; however, it is important to start slowly. If you experience pain during a certain activities, stop that activity. You may not do any heavy lifting or vigorous physical activity for at least 6 weeks after your procedure.

What are the potential risks and complications a breast lump removal?

The risk of complications during open surgery include:

  • Infection of the wound or internal infection.
  • Bleeding.
  • A painful scar.
  • Change in the shape of the breast.
  • Damage to the nerves may cause numbness
  • Damage to the blood supply to the nipple
  • Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) or blood clots.
  • Risks from general anaesthetic.
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