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Breast-conserving surgery (lumpectomy) removes the cancer and just enough tissue to get all the cancer.
For 1 or 2 days after the surgery, you will probably feel tired and have some pain. The skin around the cut (incision) may feel firm, swollen, and tender, and be bruised. Tenderness should go away in about 2 or 3 days, and the bruising within 2 weeks. Firmness and swelling may last for 3 to 6 months.
You may feel a soft lump in your breast that gradually turns hard. This is the incision healing. It is not cancer.
If you wear a bra, it should be well-fitted and supportive. You should wear it during the night, for 1 week. You will probably be able to go back to work or your normal routine in 1 to 3 weeks after the surgery. This may depend on whether you have more treatment.
Your doctor may have removed some lymph nodes in your armpit to see if the cancer has spread. If so, you may feel either numbness or tingling ("pins and needles") in your armpit or on the inside of your upper arm. This should improve over the next several weeks. Some people have numbness for a longer time.
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. You can visit Cancer Care Alberta for more information, and to find support close to home.
This care sheet gives you a general idea about how long it will take for you to recover. But each person recovers at a different pace. Follow the steps below to get better as quickly as possible.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:
Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:
Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:
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Adaptation Date: 2/25/2022
Adapted By: Alberta Health Services
Adaptation Reviewed By: Alberta Health Services
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