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What To Do After Breast Cancer Surgery

Things To Keep In Mind After Breast Surgery

Back to Work After Breast Cancer Surgery

Start exercising slowly and do more as you are able. Stop exercising and talk to your doctor right away if you:

  • Get weaker, start losing your balance, or start falling
  • Have pain that gets worse
  • Have new heaviness, aching, tightness, or other strange sensations in your arm
  • Have unusual swelling or swelling that gets worse
  • Have headaches, dizziness, blurred vision, new numbness, or tingling in your arms or chest

Its important to exercise to keep your muscles working as well as possible, but its also important to be safe. Talk with your doctor about the right kind of exercises for you and ask about seeing a lymphedema specialist who can help with safe exercise. Then set goals for increasing your level of physical activity.

If Your Mouth Is Sore Or Dry Or You Have Trouble Swallowing:

  • drink plenty of fluids, even if its just a few sips at a time
  • try sucking ice cubes or lollies made out of fresh fruit juice
  • blend foods so that they are easier to swallow
  • for savoury meals, try soups, stews, dahls and mince-based meat dishes with a lot of sauce or gravy
  • choose soft desserts, including rice pudding, ice cream, mousses and jellies add cream or ice-cream if you need extra calories
  • avoid foods with a rough texture or that need a lot of chewing, like toast, raw vegetables and tough meat
  • you may find that spicy, salty and sharp-tasting foods make it worse and are best avoided

If you notice any difficulties with eating and drinking, discuss it with your doctor, dietitian or nurse to make sure youre getting the right support. Theyll be able to give you lots of support and advice to help.

Think About What Is Important To You

After you have talked with a breast cancer surgeon and learned the facts, you may also want to talk with your spouse or partner, family, friends, or other women who have had breast cancer surgery.

Surgery Choices: Theresa, Cindy, Paula

Three women describe how they decided which type of breast cancer surgery was right for them.

Then, think about what is important to you. Thinking about these questions and talking them over with others might help:

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Betty’s Tips On Fatigue

Betty thought she was the only one struggling with fatigue. Read about how she managed her symptoms.

It was isolating and rather scary, full of What if questions, and Where do I go from here, What do I do now?” I felt like I had been thrown back into the big wide world to get on with it on my own and I didnt know how.

Corrine, Moving Forward attendee

If Your Tastes Have Changed:

Breast cancer surgery
  • eat more of the foods that do still taste good and keep trying those that dont your tastes may change again
  • you might find you prefer stronger flavours try adding herbs, spices, garlic or lemon juice to your food, or go for stronger versions of foods you normally enjoy
  • you might find you prefer foods at room temperature rather than hot
  • if youve gone off tea or coffee, try lemon tea or cold fizzy drinks
  • if you have a metallic taste in your mouth, try using plastic cutlery

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Having An Operation For Breast Cancer

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Before your operation, you may be seen at a pre-assessment clinic. You may have tests to check your general health. These can include:

  • blood tests
  • a chest x-ray
  • a recording of your heart .

Your surgeon or specialist nurse will talk to you about how your breast will look after your surgery. They may show you photographs of other women who have had breast surgery. They may also put you in contact with someone who has had the same operation. Or you can contact a local support group or Breast Cancer Care.

You will usually come into hospital on the day of your operation. You will meet the doctor who gives you the anaesthetic . The nurses may give you elastic stockings to wear during and after the operation to help prevent blood clots.

Getting Ready For And Recovering From Cancer Surgery

Having surgery can be an overwhelming experience – not just the surgery itself, but the process of getting ready to have surgery, as well as recovering afterwards. But it’s not always as difficult as you might fear. Your experience will depend on many things, including the type of cancer you have, the type of operation being done, and your overall health. Knowing what to expect and being prepared can help. It’s important to:

  • Learn as much as you can beforehand
  • Ask questions so you know what to expect
  • Understand that each person’s situation is different

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How Long Will I Stay In The Hospital After Breast Cancer Surgery

The length of stay in the hospital depends on the type of surgery and reconstruction that is performed. Generally, lumpectomies are done on an outpatient basis, and the patient recovers in a 23-hour, short-stay observation unit after the procedure.

Mastectomies with lymph node removal usually require a one- to two-night stay in the hospital with tissue flap breast reconstruction, the stay may be 4-7 days.

Most women can resume driving 10 to 14 days after surgery. Please ask your surgeon for specific recommendations.

Who Is A Candidate For A Lumpectomy

Questions to Ask After Your Breast Cancer Surgery

Lumpectomy is typically recommended for women with newly diagnosed, early-stage breast cancers such as:

  • stage I breast cancer
  • DCIS

There are a few other factors that determine whether you are a good candidate:

  • your tumor is small relative to your breast size
  • your tumor is in one area of your breast
  • youre able to receive radiation treatments after lumpectomy

For women with larger tumors, MSKs breast cancer team also offers several approaches that can make lumpectomy possible.

  • MSKs medical oncologists can sometimes use chemotherapy to shrink the tumor first. This is called neoadjuvant chemotherapy.
  • In addition, our plastic surgeons may be able to perform partial breast reconstruction, also known as oncoplastic surgery, during your lumpectomy. When possible, this approach allows us to achieve a good cosmetic outcome for you without the need for a mastectomy.

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If The Cancer Comes Back

If cancer does return, your treatment options will depend on where it comes back, what treatments you’ve had before, and your current health and preferences. For more information on how recurrent cancer is treated, see Treatment of Recurrent Breast Cancer.

Its important to know that women who have had breast cancer can also still get other types of cancer. In fact, women who have had breast cancer are at higher risk for certain other cancers. Because of this, its important to follow the American Cancer Society guidelines for the early detection of cancer, such as those for colorectal cancer and cervical cancer. To learn more about the risks of second cancers and what you can do about them, see Second Cancers After Breast Cancer.

Breast Cancer Awareness Month: If You Have Undergone A Breast Cancer Surgery Then You Should Pay An Extra Attention To Your Nutrition We Tell You How To Incorporate Healthy Eating Habits

Written by Aishwarya Vaidya | Updated : October 5, 2018 11:01 AM IST

It is essential to take care of yourself if you undergo breast cancer surgery . Following a well-balanced diet can help you to get back on track. After surgery, you may suffer from vomiting and nausea which are common. Also, you tend to experience it if you have opted for chemotherapy or radiation. Furthermore, you may also feel weak and there will be a loss of appetite. So, if you wish to ease symptoms like nausea and vomiting which can give you a tough time you should see to it that you eat smaller meals throughout the day, add yoghurt to your diet and drink soups and vegetable broth.

  • Here we decode the link between diet and recovery

    You should opt for proteins: After surgery, your body will need proteins in a larger quantity. It can help you to deal with infections and repair your cells. You can eat almonds, peanuts and cheese which are high in proteins.

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    These Are Some Tips For Reducing Fat In Your Diet:

    • Replace fatty foods with fruits, vegetables, grains, and beans.
    • Eat smaller portions of higher-fat foods.
    • Bake or broil foods instead of frying them.
    • Choose nonfat or low-fat milk and dairy products.
    • Pick lean cuts of meat, and keep servings small.
    • Try beans, fish, and poultry instead of beef, pork, and lamb.
    • Look for low-fat,fat-free, and extra lean on food labels.

    Of course, it is important to get enough fat-soluble vitamins , protein, and calories, even if you cut back on fat. This is especially crucial if you unintentionally lose weight as a side effect of radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or hormone therapy. Talk to your doctor or dietitian about the best diet plan for you during treatment. You may need to make temporary changes to boost your calorie intake, such as eating or drinking more milk, cheese, butter, eggs, sauces, gravies, and other higher-fat foods. Once treatment ends, though, you usually can go back to following the standard recommendations for low-fat eating.

    General Guidelines For These Exercises

    Breast Cancer Surgery Photograph by Dr P. Marazzi/science Photo Library

    The exercises described here can be done as soon as your doctor says it’s OK. Theyre usually started a week or more after surgery. Be sure to talk to your doctor before trying any of them. Here are some things to keep in mind after breast surgery:

    Here are some of the more common exercises that women do after breast surgery. Talk to your doctor or therapist about which of these are right for you and when you should start doing them. Do not start any of these exercises without talking to your doctor first.

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    Talk To Your Doctor About Mammograms

    Women who have had a mastectomy to treat breast cancer generally do not need routine screening mammograms on the side that was affected by cancer . There isnt enough tissue remaining after a mastectomy to do a mammogram. Cancer can come back in the skin or chest wall on that side, but if this happens its more likely to be found on a physical exam.

    Its possible for women with reconstructed breasts to get mammograms, but experts agree that women who have breast reconstruction after a mastectomy dont need routine mammograms. Still, if an area of concern is found during a physical exam, a diagnostic mammogram may be done.

    If youre not sure what type of mastectomy you had or if you need to have mammograms, ask your doctor.

    What Is The Timeline For Breast Reconstruction After A Cancer Diagnosis

    After a mastectomy, Dr. Tamburrino will use different techniques to create a breast that matches, as close as possible, in size, shape, and texture to a womans natural breasts. With reconstructive breast surgery, there is timing involved as it relates to each patient.

    1. Immediate breast reconstruction is done at the same time as the mastectomy. Some women choose this option, when possible, to avoid the emotional and visual grief caused by losing a breast.

    2. Delayed breast reconstruction, which means a patient will wait until a later date after completing treatments, such as chemotherapy or radiation. With this option, women should wait at least six months after radiation, and four weeks after chemotherapy ends before considering breast reconstruction surgery. Delaying is a womans personal choice, and reconstruction can be performed weeks, or even years, after having a mastectomy.

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    Are You Facing A Decision About Surgery For Dcis Or Breast Cancer

    Do you have ductal carcinoma in situ or breast cancer that can be removed with surgery? If so, you may be able to choose which type of breast surgery to have. Often, your choice is between breast-sparing surgery and a mastectomy .

    Once you are diagnosed, treatment will usually not begin right away. There should be enough time for you to meet with breast cancer surgeons, learn the facts about your surgery choices, and think about what is important to you. Learning all you can will help you make a choice you can feel good about.

    Questions To Ask Before Cancer Surgery

    What to do Before Breast Cancer Surgery

    You might want to ask your health care team, doctor, or surgeon some of the questions listed here, if you don’t hear the information first, or if you need to understand it better. The answers might help you feel better about your decision and know what to expect.

    • Exactly what will you do in this operation?
    • Will all the cancer be removed, or just some of it?
    • What are the chances the surgery will work?
    • Will I need other cancer treatments before or after surgery?
    • Am I healthy enough to go through the stress of surgery and anesthesia?
    • How long will the surgery take?
    • Who will update my family?
    • Will I need blood transfusions?
    • Will I be in a lot of pain? Will I have tubes coming out of my body?
    • How long will I need to be in the hospital?
    • How will my body be affected by the surgery? Will any of the changes be permanent?
    • How long will it take for me to get back to my usual activities?
    • What are the possible risks and side effects of this operation?
    • What will happen if I dont have the operation?
    • If this surgery doesnt work, are there other cancer treatments I can get afterwards?
    • Will my insurance pay for this surgery? How much will I have to pay?
    • Are you certified by the American Board of Surgery and/or a Specialty Surgery Board?
    • Are you experienced in operating on my kind of cancer? How many operations like this have you done?
    • Do I have time to get a second opinion?

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    Radiation Therapy After Lumpectomy

    Radiation therapy is usually given after lumpectomy to get rid of any cancer cells that might be left in the breast. These cells are too small to see on mammograms or other imaging tests, or to measure with lab tests.

    Radiation therapy can lower the risk of :

    • Breast cancer recurrence
    • Breast cancer death

    If lumpectomy and mastectomy are both options for surgery, survival with lumpectomy plus radiation therapy is the same as with mastectomy .

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    Are Lymph Nodes Removed During A Lumpectomy

    Women with invasive breast cancer typically have one or more lymph nodes taken from the underarm area during a lumpectomy. These nodes, called the sentinel nodes, are the first lymph nodes to which cancer cells would travel if they were to leave the breast. This is done so that your doctor can check to see if the cancer has spread.

    Women with DCIS undergoing lumpectomy do not need to have lymph nodes removed.

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    What Are The Surgical Options For Breast Cancer

    The various surgical techniques differ in how much breast tissue is removed with the tumor. The technique that is used depends on how big the tumor is, where it is located, whether it has spread , and your personal feelings. The surgeon often removes some axillary lymph nodes as part of the operation the lymph nodes are then tested to see if they have any cancer cells. This is done to help plan your treatment after surgery.

    The breast surgeon will discuss your surgery options with you before the procedure. The surgeon may recommend a specific surgical procedure for you based on the size, location, or type of breast cancer you have. Some of the procedures the physician may discuss with you include lumpectomy, simple or total mastectomy, and modified radical mastectomy.

    Lumpectomy This is also referred to as partial mastectomy. The surgeon removes the cancerous area and a surrounding margin of normal tissue. A second incision may be made in order to remove lymph nodes. This treatment tries to save as much of the normal breast as possible.

    After the lumpectomy, the patient usually has a 4-5-week course of radiation therapy to treat the remaining breast tissue. . Most women who have small, early stage breast cancers are excellent candidates for lumpectomy.

    Women who usually are not eligible for a lumpectomy include those who:

    When To Call The Doctor

    (Above, left) Chest wall recurrence of breast cancer. (Above, right ...

    Breast cancer surgery is generally safe, but as with any surgery, there are risks. Possible problems include:

    • Infection
    • A buildup of blood under your skin
    • A buildup of fluid under your skin
    • Swelling in the arm
    • A bad reaction to anesthesia

    Many women opt for breast reconstruction right after their cancer is removed. Problems that can stem from that operation include:

    • Poor healing
    • A leak or rupture of your breast implant
    • Scar tissue around your implant

    Talk to your doctor about the risks before your surgery. The medical staff will keep an eye out for problems while you’re in the hospital. Once youâre home, watch for these symptoms:

    Infection. Look for redness or swelling of the incision with pus or foul-smelling drainage. You may have a fever. Usually, antibiotics can treat these infections.

    Lymphedema. Look for swelling of the arm or hand on the side of the surgery. This happens to some women after the lymph nodes under the arm are removed. It may go away on its own, but you may need to see a physical or occupational therapist. Treatments include:

    • Draining the fluid
    • Skin care
    • Arm exercises

    Seroma. You may notice swelling from a buildup of fluid at the site of the surgery. Usually, your body absorbs this fluid. If the swelling doesnât go down on its own, your doctor may need to use a needle to drain the area.

    A small amount of swelling is normal for about a month after surgery. Sometimes, raising your arm on pillows will ease it.

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