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Lumpectomy (Breast Conserving Surgery)

Female Physician Talking to Older Woman

If breast imaging shows a mass or you’ve been diagnosed with breast cancer, your doctor may recommend a lumpectomy (also called a partial mastectomy). Lumpectomies can confirm a cancer diagnosis or be a first treatment option for patients with early stage breast cancer.

At the Abramson Cancer Center, our breast surgeons use advanced techniques to remove breast tissue with precision and minimal scarring. We preserve your breasts while getting you the answers and treatment you need.

What Is a Lumpectomy?

During a lumpectomy, a breast surgeon removes abnormal breast tissue and some surrounding tissue for evaluation. A lumpectomy is a breast conserving surgery, unlike a mastectomy, which removes the entire breast.

Your doctor uses breast imaging to determine whether you are a candidate for lumpectomy. If the abnormal tissue is confined to one area of the breast and can be easily removed, lumpectomy is a possibility.

Lumpectomy: Why Choose the Abramson Cancer Center?

We understand that breast surgery is a sensitive procedure. Our breast surgeons are experts at removing abnormal tissue while maintaining the appearance of your breast. At the Abramson Cancer Center, you’ll find:

  • Expert surgeons: Our fellowship-trained surgeons only operate on breasts. They use their experience and in-depth knowledge to preserve as much healthy breast tissue as possible while removing abnormal tissue.
  • Surgical precision: We use advanced imaging and radar localization technology called SAVI SCOUT® to successfully find and remove breast cancer. These steps minimize the amount of healthy tissue removed.
  • Team approach: Whenever possible, breast surgeons and plastic surgeons at Penn Medicine work together to perform breast reconstruction during a lumpectomy. This reduces the amount of surgery you need and your overall recovery time.
  • Comprehensive support: Our oncology nurse navigators answer any questions and coordinate your appointments before and after surgery. We also offer support services through specialized social workers, nutritionists and support groups.

How We Treat Cancer With Breast Conserving Surgery

Our experienced breast cancer team considers both your diagnosis and your preferences when creating a surgical plan. If you don’t need or want a mastectomy, we often recommend breast conserving surgery followed by radiation therapy. For more advanced cancer, we may recommend chemotherapy to shrink the tumor before surgery.

Surgeons look at the location and size of the tumor to determine the appropriate type of breast conserving surgery. During a lumpectomy, we take the breast lump along with a small amount of surrounding tissue. Whenever possible, we use advanced surgical techniques during breast conserving surgery:

  • Hidden scar surgery: The surgeon makes incisions either around the areola or in the crease of the breast. This advanced planning reduces visible scarring.
  • Oncoplastic reduction: Breast surgeons and plastic surgeons work together to treat patients whose breast shape and size benefit from a combined procedure. During one surgery, patients undergo a lumpectomy as well as a breast reduction and/or lift.

What to Expect During a Lumpectomy/Partial Mastectomy

We perform lumpectomies as outpatient procedures. Before the surgery, a radiologist will locate the abnormal tissue to be removed. This can be done the same day as surgery with a traditional wire localization. We can also use SAVI SCOUT® technology up to 30 days before the lumpectomy.

The surgery is performed using general anesthesia. During the procedure, your breast surgeon will:

  • Make an incision in your breast
  • Remove the tumor and some surrounding tissue for review by a pathologist
  • Possibly remove lymph nodes for further investigation by a pathologist
  • Work in conjunction with a plastic surgeon whenever possible to perform breast reconstruction during the lumpectomy
  • Close the incision

Recovering From a Lumpectomy

After your breast conserving surgery, we will monitor your vital signs, including heart rate and blood pressure, as the effects from anesthesia wear off. You’ll typically be able to return home the same day. We’ll review recovery instructions about pain medication, incision care and restrictions on activity. You may experience some pain and discomfort for a few days following surgery.

We’ll coordinate a follow-up appointment within two weeks of surgery. At the appointment, the surgeon will check your incision and discuss the results of the pathology report.