DR DOCRAT’S SURGICAL EXPERTISE
LUMPECTOMY FOR BREAST CANCER
A lumpectomy is a surgical procedure done to remove a lump of abnormal tissue from the breast. When done for cancer, a lumpectomy involves a sentinel node dissection.
WHY MIGHT I NEED SURGERY?
A lumpectomy is done to remove the lump of cancerous cells from the breast. In cases where a lump is found in the breast and the biopsy is positive for cancer, the tumour is surgically removed. A lumpectomy can be done alone, or as part of the cancer treatment in conjunction with chemotherapy or radiation therapy.
Depending on the clinical findings, your doctor will decide if you are a candidate for a sentinel lymph node biopsy or dissection. When breast cancer spreads it spreads through the first lymph node to more lymph nodes in the armpits. This first lymph node is called the sentinel lymph node.
WHAT DOES THIS SURGERY ENTAIL?
Prior to the lumpectomy your surgeon will make some markings on your breast to plan surgery. Next, under general anaesthesia your surgeon will make an incision into the breast. Be it cancerous or benign, a lumpectomy is done by removing the growth or lump, as well as the nearby surrounding tissue.
Next your surgeon will identify the sentinel lymph node. This is the lymph node (or nodes) nearest to the tumour. To do this she may inject a substance in your breast, similar to a dye. This will show the sentinel lymph node or nodes so that they can be removed. These lymph nodes are then sent off to the laboratory to test for the presence of cancer cells.
WHAT CAN I EXPECT AFTER SURGERY?
Upon waking from the anaesthetic you will feel some pain in the breast area. Painkillers will be prescribed to ease discomfort. You will remain in hospital for observation for the next day or two. During this time you will have a drain placed in your breast to remove any excess fluids. You will be instructed how to care for incisions once discharged and also how to exercise your arm in order to aid recovery and healing. The tenderness should go away in about 2-3 days and the bruising within two weeks. Firmness and swelling in the breast may last for 3-6 months.