JOSE ERBELLA, M.D., FACS
General, Oncologic & Minimally Invasive Surgeries
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SPARING THE BREAST WITH A LUMPECTOMY PROCEDURE.
WHAT IS BREAST SPARING SURGERY?
Breast sparing surgery describes any procedure that removes cancerous tumors and cells while leaving the majority of the breast tissue intact. This includes a lumpectomy, a common type of breast surgery for patients with stage I or II breast cancer. Stage I or II breast cancer is considered “early-stage breast cancer” and describes cancers that may have spread to nearby lymph nodes but not to distant parts of the body. In most cases, breast cancer does not reappear in distant parts of the body after being successfully removed from the breast tissue.
During a lumpectomy, the tumor and some surrounding normal tissue are removed. In addition, I may remove lymph nodes under the arm during the initial surgery or at a later time to determine if the cancer has spread. In many cases, this surgery leaves the breast looking very much the same as it did before surgery and that's why we call it "sparing."
In some cases I can hide the lumpectomy scar around the nipple, under the arm or under the breast along the natural fold. We call this the "hidden scar technique." Sometimes it is not possible to hide the scar.
Usually a lumpectomy surgery is done as an outpatient procedure, so our patients go home the same day. It takes less than an hour to do the surgery and usually it's done under general anesthesia so you are totally asleep and not feel any pain. In addition, radiation treatments may also be recommended, and this would begin after a month of recovery. Additional treatment options can vary depending on the results of testing done on tissue samples removed during the breast surgery. This is when we will know the final stage of the cancer and what we should do next to prevent it from recurring or coming back.
WHO SHOULD HAVE BREAST SPARING SURGERY?
Breast sparing surgery is just one option available for treating breast cancer. I will sit down and go over all of the options. We make the decision about specific treatment options together as a team, with the patient having the final say about surgery.
Breast sparing surgery may be recommended for patients with early-stage breast cancer who have not had radiation in the past. Other breast surgery options include partial, total or radical mastectomies. These surgeries remove significantly more breast tissue, after which reconstructive plastic surgery may be performed. Current cancer stage, family history and the patient’s comfort level can play a role in determining which breast surgery is most appropriate.
Diagram of the different hidden scars for a lumpectomy surgery.
This is what a visible lumpectomy scar can look like in the right breast.
This is a lumpectomy scar hidden in the nipple area.