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Written by Amy Hall
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Lumpectomy for Breast Cancer

A lumpectomy is considered breast-conserving surgery that removes only the part of the breast considered cancerous. It can also be referred to as a biopsy, partial mastectomy, re-excision, quadrantectomy, and wedge resection. Technically, a lumpectomy is a partial mastectomy, because only part of the breast is removed, not the whole breast.

However, how much of the breast that is removed can vary widely. Quadrentectomy, for example, means that a quarter of the breast is removed. If you have breast cancer, make sure that you discuss with your doctor the intended plan of action, so that you have a clear understanding of how much of your breast will be gone after the breast cancer surgery.

Breast-Conserving Surgery

Lumpectomy is the most common form of breast cancer surgery today. The doctor removes only the part of the breast containing the tumor (or lump), and some of the normal tissue that surrounds it. All the tissue that is removed from the breast is examined carefully in the lab to see if cancer cells are present in the margins--the normal tissue surrounding the tumor or "lump".

If cancer cells are found in the margins, extending out to the edge of the breast tissue that was removed, the surgeon will do additional surgery (called re-excision) to remove the remaining cancer. Most women receive five to seven weeks of radiation therapy after a lumpectomy, in order to remove any cancer cells that may be present in the remaining breast tissue. This combination of a lumpectomy and radiation is often referred to as breast-conserving surgery.

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