A lumpectomy is a breast-conserving therapy in which there is surgical removal of a breast tumor with confirmed tumor-free margins.
Delay in effective treatment of breast cancer is an important factor in determining the outcome. When cancer is suspected, or already has been confirmed by open tissue sampling (biopsy) or by needle biopsy, and when the cancer is believed to be small and limited to the breast, it may be possible to treat it by performing a lumpectomy.
In a lumpectomy, only the obvious tumor and some tissue around it are removed. This is much less disfiguring than a complete or radical mastectomy and, if combined with radiation therapy, may give results as effective as more radical procedures.
The aim of surgery is to remove the tumor and cells around it to an extent that the body's natural defenses, together with additional therapeutic measures (such as radiation therapy and anticancer drugs) can deal with any remaining cancerous cells. But there is still a wide spectrum of opinion on the optimum method of breast cancer surgery (see the Health Profile on Breast Cancer for more information).
How big is the lump and how much breast tissue will be removed?
Are there any complications to this surgery?
What kind of anesthetic will be used? And how will it be given?
Can the analysis of the breast tissue after surgery determine if any cancer cells were in surrounding tissue?
How will the breast appear after the surgery?
What treatment will be required after surgery?