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How Long Is Breast Cancer Surgery

How Is A Lumpectomy Done

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Lumpectomy surgery is usually an outpatient surgery . The procedure itself usually takes about one hour to complete. Breast cancer is not a cancer the surgeon can see so usually the cancer needs to be marked before surgery to help guide the surgeon. The method to localize the cancer in the breast can be performed with a small chip placement or wire insertion into the breast cancer by the radiologist just prior to surgery. .

During a lumpectomy, your surgeon carefully removes the tumor plus a margin of healthy breast tissue. Surgeons take a thin border of healthy breast tissue around the tumor to leave no cancer cells behind. But providers take care to remove only the tissue needed to treat cancer, to preserve as much of your natural breast as possible. Unfortunately, the surgeon cannot see the cancer and the pathologist cannot accurately evaluate the cancer at the time of surgery, so the pathology results of the surgery do take approximately seven to 10 days to determine.

The surgeon will likely then inject medication into the surgical area to help decrease the amount of pain you will experience after surgery. The surgeon will also place small marking clips into the lumpectomy site, to help aid the radiation oncologist know where to focus the radiation. The breast tissue is then sewn back together with dissolvable, internal stitches.

What Is A Total Mastectomy

With this procedure, also called simple mastectomy, your doctor removes your entire breast, including the nipple. They may also take out lymph nodes, the small glands that are part of your immune system, from your underarm.

Youâre most likely to have a total mastectomy if the cancer has not spread beyond the breast or if youâre having a preventative mastectomy to lower your risk of getting breast cancer.

Does A Lumpectomy Tell My Doctor If Cancer Has Spread

During the procedure, your surgeon may also check or remove lymph nodes to see if cancer has spread beyond the breast.

You may have an injection of blue dye or a small amount of radioactive material around the nipple area. This helps your surgeon know which lymph nodes to remove . During surgery the surgeon will make a separate, small incision in the armpit area to remove a few lymph nodes for the pathologist to check.

The tissue then goes to a laboratory. Specialized tests identify whether or not cancer has spread into the lymph nodes. . These details help your provider know which treatments are most likely to be effective for you. You may get test results several days after your surgery.

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Things You Should Do Before Undergoing Breast Cancer Surgery

  • 1. Stay Calm

Its completely understandable to feel like your cancer diagnosis is a crisis that requires an urgent solution. Get the cancer out of me quickly, is a common request. However, you should resist the urge to treat cancer as an emergency. Having the cancer removed quickly may help your anxiety, but rushing to surgery will not improve your chances of surviving breast cancer or avoiding a recurrence. For the best possible outcome, it is essential that you learn about all of your treatment options to avoid making hasty decisions that might compromise your outcome. This sometimes means completing chemotherapy BEFORE surgery. It is completely safe to take a few weeks to figure out what approach is best for you and your cancer.

  • 2. Consider a Second Opinion

  • 3. Avoid extensive lymph node surgery

The treatment of the lymph nodes in breast cancer patients has evolved considerably in recent years. The main goal of this evolution has been to reduce the burden and complications of lymph node surgery, especially the complication of lymphedema or chronic arm swelling. While lymph nodes surgery remains an important component of breast cancer surgery, advancements in lymph node surgery have significantly reduced the extent of lymph node surgery as well as the side effects of the procedure.

  • 4. Ask if you should consider chemotherapy before surgery

  • 5. Ask about alternatives to traditional breast surgery and traditional breast radiation

Survival Happens Every Day

Hundreds of breast cancer patients denied or rushed into ...

These rough estimates for how long breast cancer takes to treat can be helpful to plan your life around treatment. More importantly, they provide a light at the end of the tunnel for you to focus on. However, for your daily sanity, it may be better to break down your treatment into smaller parts. Take it from one day to the next. Remember, every day you make it, youre already winning. These factors all affect how long breast cancer takes to treat.

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Why Is A Lumpectomy Performed

Your doctor may recommend a lumpectomy to treat breast cancer or to remove a benign tumor of the breast . Your doctor may only consider a lumpectomy if other treatment options that involve less risk of complications have been ineffective. Ask your doctor about all of your treatment options and consider getting a second opinion before deciding on a lumpectomy.

Fluid Collecting Around The Wound

A seroma is a soft bulge or swelling around, or very close to, the wound. It is caused by a build-up of fluid. It usually goes away within a few weeks. Talk to your surgeon or breast care nurse if you are worried about swelling that does not seem to be going away. Your cancer doctor or breast care nurse may need to drain the fluid with a needle and syringe. This may cause some discomfort while its being done.

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Summary Of Surgery Timing

Though we don’t have a solid answer on how soon surgery should be done after a diagnosis of breast cancer , it would seem earlier surgery is ideal .

Delaying for a lengthy period of time can be dangerous, with studies finding that those who delay over six months are twice as likely to die from the disease. This is important to keep in mind for those who have breast lumps they are “observing” without a clear diagnosis. Any breast lump needs to be explained.

Youve Been Diagnosed With Breast Cancer How Soon Do You Need Treatment

Tips to Reduce Pain After Breast Cancer Surgery

Timely surgery for breast cancer is obviously better than delaying surgery, but how long can a patient safely wait for surgery once diagnosed. Because a randomized controlled clinical trial to answer this question would be unethical, this has been a difficult question to answer. Fortunately, a new study provides an estimate of how much of a delay it takes before outcomes start to suffer.

A new year is upon us yet again, and Science-Based Medicine has been in existence for eight years now. It seems only yesterday that Steve Novella approached me to ask me to be a contributor. Our part-serious, part-facetious predictions for 2016 notwithstanding, one thing about 2016 is certain: I will almost certainly encounter some form of cancer quackery or other and deconstruct it, probably multiple forms. In any case, a topic Ive been meaning to write about is based on a couple of studies that came out three weeks ago that illustrate why, even if a patient ultimately comes around to science-based treatment of his cancer, the delay due to seeking out unscientific treatments can have real consequences.

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Studies On Time To Surgery And Survival

Several studies have been done, but there are some differences in how these were conducted that can affect the results. For example, some studies have looked at the time between a definitive diagnosis and surgery, and others have looked at the time between the onset of symptoms and the time of surgery. Some have looked at averages of all people, whereas others have separated out people based on age, tumor type, and receptor status. Studies can also be skewed, as doctors may recommend surgery sooner for women who have more aggressive tumors. Let’s look at time to surgery and survival rates in different groups of people.

Recovering From A Mastectomy: What To Expect

In general, women having a mastectomy stay in the hospital for 1 or 2 nights and then go home. How long it takes to recover from surgery depends on what procedures were done, and some women may need help at home. Most women should be fairly functional after going home and can often return to their regular activities within about 4 weeks. Recovery time is longer if breast reconstruction was done as well, and it can take months to return to full activity after some procedures.

Ask your health care team how to care for your surgery site and arm. Usually, you and your caregivers will get written instructions about care after surgery. These instructions typically cover:

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Time To Chemotherapy After Surgery

After surgery for early-stage breast cancer, many women also have adjuvant chemotherapy .

The period of time between surgery and chemotherapy depends somewhat on how well someone does with surgery since the surgical site needs to be relatively well-healed before chemotherapy begins. But once the incision are healed, what is the optimal time to begin this treatment?

Stiff Shoulder Or Arm

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After a mastectomy or having the lymph nodes removed, your shoulder or arm may feel sore or stiff. Your physiotherapist or nurse will show you arm exercises to do. This will help improve the movement in your shoulder and arm, and reduce the risk of long-term problems. Breast Cancer Care have a leaflet about these exercises.

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Why Should I Get Radiation After Surgery

Most people have radiation treatments after lumpectomy surgery to destroy any remaining microscopic cancer cells. This combination is a standard treatment option for women with breast cancer. . It effectively treats cancer while preserving more of how your breast looks and feels.

Research has shown lumpectomy plus radiation offers long-term survival rates that are similar to those who have a mastectomy .

Which Operation Should I Have

Some people will be offered a choice between breast-conserving surgery and a mastectomy.

Long-term survival is the same for breast-conserving surgery followed by radiotherapy as for mastectomy.

Studies show that women who have a wide local excision may be slightly more likely to have a local recurrence , which can be treated again. However, most people dont have a recurrence.

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Hormone Therapy For Breast Cancer

About 2 of every 3 breast cancer cases are hormone-receptor positive. This means the breast cancer cells grow by attaching to hormones like estrogen and progesterone. Hormone therapy, also called endocrine therapy, stops these hormones from attaching to cancer cells, thus stopping their spread.

There are different types of hormone therapy but most work by altering levels of estrogen and preventing estrogen from connecting to cancer cells.

Hormone therapy is most often used after surgery to reduce the risk of cancer returning but is sometimes used before surgery. Its a long-term treatment taken for at least 5 to 10 years.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.

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Are Hematomas Of Any Concern For Breast Cancer

Hematomas are not related to breast cancer. However, damage to blood vessels due to surgery is a common cause. But, it is quite important to get a clear differential diagnosis of hematoma if a patient is undergoing treatment for breast cancer.

There are a couple of reasons for this. The asymmetric density and increased skin thickness that sometimes develops as the hematoma retreats often has a mammographic appearance that can mimic some breast carcinomas, so that has to be ruled out.

Also, it is possible that an occult breast tumor could be causing the internal bleeding. A hemorrhage caused by an intracystic tumor might also be a possibility, though rare.

Surgery To Remove Nearby Lymph Nodes

To find out if the breast cancer has spread to underarm lymph nodes, one or more of these lymph nodes will be removed and looked at in the lab. This is an important part of figuring out the stage of the cancer. Lymph nodes may be removed either as part of the surgery to remove the breast cancer or as a separate operation.

The two main types of surgery to remove lymph nodes are:

  • Sentinel lymph node biopsy is a procedure in which the surgeon removes only the lymph node under the arm where the cancer would likely spread first. Removing only one or a few lymph nodes lowers the risk of side effects from the surgery, such as arm swelling that is also known as lymphedema.
  • Axillary lymph node dissection is a procedure in which the surgeon removes many underarm lymph nodes. ALND is not done as often as it was in the past, but it might still be the best way to look at the lymph nodes in some situations.

To learn more about these procedures, see Lymph Node Surgery for Breast Cancer.

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What Support Does Msk Offer To Women Recovering From A Lumpectomy

MSKs quality-of-life specialists provide comprehensive follow-up care to help you recover from a lumpectomy. Many services are available at our New Jersey, Long Island, and Westchester County locations as well as at our Evelyn H. Lauder Breast Center in Manhattan.

  • Wellness therapies from integrative medicine specialists can relieve emotional or physical symptoms after surgery or for potential side effects.
  • Rehabilitation and exercise therapies can help you heal and recover your strength, flexibility, and stamina.
  • Find emotional support through our Counseling Center, online support groups, or patient-to-patient support program, which connects you with other breast cancer survivors who understand your challenges and concerns. Our social workers are available across our treatment locations to provide emotional support and guidance. They can also help with some of the practical aspects of having cancer, such as transportation assistance and the impact on your job.

What About The Other Breast


Some women, on hearing a diagnosis of breast cancer, ask for both breasts to be removed, believing that this will increase their chances of long-term survival. However, research has shown that removing an unaffected breast has no survival benefit, as it doesn’t change the risk of spread from the already diagnosed cancer.

With the exception of women with genetic mutations such as BRCA1 and 2, the risk of getting cancer in the other breast is generally much lower than people believe. However, some women may have valid reasons for wanting to have bilateral mastectomy. For example, large-breasted women might find it intolerable to be left so imbalanced.

These issues are complex and should be thoroughly discussed with your surgeon and breast care nurse so that you are confident that you are making an informed decision.

If you’d like to talk your decision over with our experienced breast nurses, call 0800 BC NURSE.

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Inflammatory Breast Cancer Treatment

Inflammatory breast cancer is an uncommon and aggressive type of breast cancer caused by cancer cells blocking lymph vessels in the skin.

All IBC cases are classified as at least stage 3 breast cancer. If the cancer is metastatic , its considered stage 4.

Treatments for IBC depend on what stage the cancer is in.

How Long Is Hospital Stay After Breast Cancer Surgery

If you are in pain or feel nauseous from the anesthesia, let someone know so that you can be given medication. Youll then be admitted to a hospital room. Hospital stays for mastectomy average 3 days or less. If you have a mastectomy and reconstruction at the same time, you may be in the hospital a little longer.

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In The Months After Mastectomy

Your body will continue to adjust to the effects of the surgery over a period of months. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • You may have phantom sensations or phantom pain in the months after mastectomy: As nerves regrow, you may feel a weird crawly sensation, you may itch, you may be very sensitive to touch, and you may feel pressure. Your discomfort may go away by itself, or it may persist but you adapt to it. Analgesics and NSAIDs such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen usually can address the pain related to this type of nerve injury. Opioids also can be used to treat this type of pain. Read more about managing phantom pain.
  • Continue doing regular arm exercises: Stay with your arm exercise routine to keep your arm limber.
  • You may experience fatigue from time to time in the early months after surgery: If youre having trouble with fatigue, ask your doctor about things you can do.

Surgery For Advanced Breast Cancer

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Although surgery is very unlikely to cure breast cancer that has spread to other parts of the body, it can still be helpful in some situations, either as a way to slow the spread of the cancer, or to help prevent or relieve symptoms from it. For example, surgery might be used:

  • When the breast tumor is causing an open wound in the breast
  • To treat a small number of areas of cancer spread in a certain part of the body, such as the brain
  • When an area of cancer spread is pressing on the spinal cord
  • To treat a blockage in the liver
  • To provide relief of pain or other symptoms

If your doctor recommends surgery for advanced breast cancer, its important that you understand whether its to try to cure the cancer or to prevent or treat symptoms.

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