A breast lump removal is a surgical procedure performed to take a lump from the breast. This procedure is also known as a lumpectomy or breast conservation surgery. Patients may have this surgery to treat breast cancer, cysts, or fibroadenomas in their breasts. It can be performed by a general surgeon or by a specialist such as an oncology surgeon, depending on the reason for the surgery.
Patients may notice breast lumps during breast self exams or a lump may be identified during a medical exam. When a lump is identified, the first step is to determine the nature of the lump. Diagnostic testing including medical imaging and biopsy can be used to learn more about what is inside. With this information in hand, a doctor can make treatment recommendations. Breast lump removal may be recommended if a lump is cancerous, infected, painful, or likely to cause problems in the future.
The surgery can be performed in a hospital or surgical clinic. Patients may be given general or local anesthesia for a breast lump removal and an anesthesiologist usually meets with the patient before the surgery to discuss the anesthesia options. During the surgery, the surgeon makes an incision in the breast to access the lump and then cuts it out. If the lump is cancerous, the surgeon removes the tissue around the margins in an attempt to get all the cancer cells out. The lymph nodes from the armpit may be removed as well if there are concerns that a cancer may spread.
After the surgery, a drain may be placed to prevent the buildup of fluid inside the breast. The patient is given analgesic drugs to assist with pain in recovery and the lump is sent off for analysis. A lab can conduct tests to precisely pinpoint what is inside the lump. In the case of cancerous lumps, the lab can also check to see whether or not the margins of the cancer were fully removed.
For breast cancers, breast lump removal is sometimes an option for women who would like to preserve their breasts if they can. There may also be cases when a cancer is clearly localized and a mastectomy, a removal of the entire breast, is simply not necessary. Surgeons balance the desire to preserve breast tissue with the need to fully remove the cancer and it is important to note that even with breast conservation in mind, it may be necessary to perform reconstruction surgery after a breast lump removal to rebuild part of the breast.