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Lumpectomy and Breast Conservation

More than 90 percent of eligible breast cancer patients at our Breast Center have breast conservation surgery, compared to only 65 percent nationally.

Most breast cancers today are detected when they are small. Many patients can be effectively treated with a breast conserving approach, which often means lumpectomy followed by radiation therapy. For patients who are treated with lumpectomy, we are committed to preserving as much of the natural look and feel of a woman’s breast as possible.

When is a woman a good candidate for a lumpectomy?

Lumpectomies are usually appropriate for women who have a single small or medium size tumor. The tumor in the breast is removed along with a rim of surrounding normal tissue. In order for a patient to be a good candidate for lumpectomy, we should be able to expect that lumpectomy will result in a breast with a good cosmetic appearance.

How a patient feels about her surgical choices and about the cosmetic outcomes is very individual. We discuss options with each patient and try to give realistic expectations about what to expect with different surgical options. For many women the appearance of her breasts contributes to her sense of self-esteem and well-being. It is often possible to use oncoplastic techniques in order to minimize the appearance of volume loss and to preserve a good shape.

Not every patient with a small tumor is a good candidate for breast conservation. Persons who may not be good candidates include patients with multiple tumors, patients who have had prior breast irradiation, and persons who are unable to have radiation therapy. Some patients weigh their options and may simply decide they prefer mastectomy with or without reconstruction.

We review each patient’s history, exam and imaging in detail and discuss all options for surgical management. We listen to each patient’s preferences and goals, and tailor our recommendations to her individual situation. We want each of our patients to be an active part of her own decision–making, and to feel that she has made the best possible choice for herself.

Those who are not candidates include:

  • Patients with multiple tumors in the breast occupying several different quadrants
  • Those who have had lumpectomy with radiation in the past
  • Those who have had mantle radiation for treatment of other types of cancer as a child or young adult
  • Those who refuse to have radiation after lumpectomy for personal reasons

If you should need a mastectomy or reconstructive breast surgery, our breast plastic and reconstructive surgeons are nationally known for their expertise in these areas. Discuss each and every option with your surgical team and be an active part of the decision-making process. You can control the future outcome of your health and post surgical satisfaction if you are armed with as much information as possible and if you actively participate in the decisions about your surgery.