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Breast-conserving surgery (lumpectomy) removes cancer from the breast. Your doctor will make a small cut (incision) and take out the cancer. The whole breast won't be removed. The doctor will try to also take a small amount of normal tissue around the cancer. This is known as "getting clear margins." Some people will need another surgery to be sure the margins are clear. The doctor may also check the nearby lymph nodes during the surgery.
After surgery, you will probably go home the same day. Most people can go back to work or their normal routine in 1 to 3 weeks. This depends on how you feel. It also depends on the type of work you do and whether you need more treatment. This may include radiation or chemotherapy. Most people who have this surgery for cancer also get radiation treatment.
The surgery will leave scars. Sometimes it leaves a dent in the breast too. Most women will look normal in a bra. But your breasts may not match in size or shape after surgery. This depends on the size of your breasts. It also depends on how much tissue was removed.
When you find out that you have cancer, you may feel many emotions and may need some help coping. Seek out family, friends, and counsellors for support. You also can do things at home to make yourself feel better while you go through treatment. Call the Canadian Cancer Society (1-888-939-3333) or visit its website at www.cancer.ca for more information.
Surgery can be stressful. This information will help you understand what you can expect. And it will help you safely prepare for surgery.
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Current as of: March 1, 2023
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine & Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine & Laura S. Dominici MD - General Surgery, Breast Surgical Oncology
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