M At The Doctor

Breast cancer surgery: mastectomy and lumpectomy

Thanks to breast cancer screening campaigns, tumors are discovered at increasingly early stages, offering the possibility of conservative treatments. This means that the operation of breast cancer allows more and more often to keep the breast, and remove only the cancer area. Then remodel the operated breast to preserve the aesthetic result.

In all cases, depending on the size of the tumor, several types of operations are possible:

  • Lumpectomy retains the breast after removal of the tumor area. To maximize the shape and shape of the breast, surgical techniques have evolved. Oncoplasty combines the techniques of cancer and plastic surgeries.
  • The removal of axillary lymph nodes (under the armpit) or an axillary lymph node dissection makes it possible to know if the cancerous cells have penetrated or not into the lymphatic circulation, and to possibly remove the diseased ganglia.
  • The operation of breast cancer can also be performed after several chemotherapy sessions.
  • Mastectomy removes the whole breast.


Remove only the tumor

It's conservative surgery. We talk about lumpectomy. The procedure consists in removing the tumor while respecting as much as possible the curve of the breast and the nipple. It is possible in the case of small tumors, less than 3 cm.

It should be noted that this conservative treatment may be proposed for slightly larger tumors. This can be done through oncoplastic surgery that combines both conventional and plastic surgery procedures.

Of course, the surgeon also removes one or more lymph nodes, to look for possible lymph node metastases and remove them.

Lumpectomy is followed by radiotherapy and medical treatment with hormone therapy and / or chemotherapy depending on the characteristics of the tumor and lymph nodes.

The intervention itself lasts a short time. Hospitalization is only 24 hours to 3 or 4 days. The operative follow-up is not very painful, thanks to the taking of effective analgesics. The breast can be slightly deformed the first days after the operation, but the evolution is quickly favorable.

Swelling in the axillary fossa may be formed (this is a lymphocele), but it is increasingly rare, particularly because of the use of the sentinel lymph node technique. This lymphocele is due to the flow of lymph out of the lymphatic vessels cut during the operation. During the weeks following the intervention, physiotherapy sessions are prescribed to limit the sequelae, such as the decrease of the mobility of the shoulder, or the appearance of a lymphoedema (big arm).

Learn more:

- Breast self-examination explained in video
- Mammography
- Breast fibroma
- The breast nodule explained in video
- Breast cancer
- Breast Cancer Screening

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