Breast Conserving Surgery

Early cancer detection in the breast can be treated by breast conserving surgery, a procedure done to remove part of the breast that has cancer. This is an alternative procedure often preferred to mastectomy, a procedure involving removal of the whole breast tissue, read about it at

A breast conserving surgery often involves a series of procedures which include;

Locating the tumor breast conserving surgery
It is important for the surgeon to first locate the position of the tumor within the breast to help in correct surgical removal. The process can be done by various methods which include;

Wire localization
This is a process done on tumors that cannot be felt where anaesthesia is injected into the patient and by use of imaging techniques such as breast ultrasound, mammogram or breast MRI, the doctor will insert a wire into cancer localized area which will help in the tumor removal. The wire can then be removed after completion of the procedure.

Use of a radioactive material
This involves the same process as wire localization but instead of using a wire, radioactive material is inserted into the breast to help locate the tumor.

Use of a radio clip
This involves the placement of a clip during the process of biopsy to mark the location of the tumor that will aid in its removal.

Carrying out the surgery
The procedure is carried out with the patient being under anaesthesia and it involves making of small incisions on the skin surface of the breast around the area where the tumor is located. The doctor will then remove the abnormal cells together with some normal tissue around the tumor which will be analysed in the lab to ensure complete tumor removal.

The surgeon will also make incisions under the arm to remove some lymph node tissues which will be taken to the lab to access if the cancer is spread. This is done either by removing axillary lymph nodes when the lymph nodes are enlarged or by sentinel lymph node removal for biopsy in cases where the lymph nodes are not enlarged.

After completion of the procedure, the incisions are then closed and the patient is taken to recovery and can be discharged if sentinel lymph nodes were removed for biopsy or can remain under care if axillary lymph nodes are removed before they are discharged.

Post-surgery care
Dressing on the surgical site is done during the recovery period.
Medications such as pain killers and antibiotics will be prescribed to reduce pain and prevent infection on the surgical site.
After breast conserving surgery, the doctor may recommend radiation therapy and also hormone therapy to reduce the risks of cancer reoccurring.

Risks of breast conserving surgery

  • Infection is likely to occur around the area where incisions where made if proper care is not taken.
  • The procedure is associated with swelling and soreness around the incision areas.
  • Pain in the breast area and armpits.
  • Sometimes bleeding can occur.
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