Lumpectomy or Mastectomy

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Post breast cancer surgery, it will not be an easy decision to take if your doctor, under certain circumstances, can ask you to decide between mastectomy and lumpectomy. Which should you opt for? Your choice will depend on various factors and you may be advised to analyze all of them before taking a decision. It is but important to weigh the involved risks against the benefits.

What is Lumpectomy Procedure?

Lumpectomy procedure is removal of the breast lump or breast tumor along with the surrounding tissues without having to remove the entire breast. It is usually done under regional anesthesia and does not require hospital stay.

Lumpectomy is almost always followed by radiation to kill remaining breast cancer cells after the lump is taken out. Lumpectomy plus radiation is also referred to as breast conserving therapy. Most patients require 5 to 7 weeks of radiation therapy.

What is Mastectomy Surgery?

Mastectomy is removal of the entire breast and may not necessitate radiation therapy afterwards. It is done under general anesthesia requiring hospital stay.

How to decide between Lumpectomy or Mastectomy?

For early stage of breast cancer, doctors say lumpectomy plus radiation is just as safe as getting a mastectomy. For a lot of women, body image and keeping the breast is important and hence, they opt for lumpectomy followed by radiation. But many still prefer to go for a mastectomy procedure just for peace of mind because they believe if the breast is not there, cancer is highly unlikely to come back.

Which is better - mastectomy or lumpectomy?

The main advantage of opting for lumpectomy surgeryis that the entire breast is preserved whereas in mastectomy, the breast is removed. However, the available option of breast reconstruction surgery or breast prostheses can work in favor of the latter.

While lumpectomy is a not a major procedure and you can be back home the same day, mastectomy is a full-blown surgery and recuperation time is longer. It will be some days before you are back on your feet.

Lumpectomy surgery is usually followed by radiation and this has its own side-effects plus it takes up a lot of your time. Mastectomy procedure need not always require radiation.

With lumpectomy, local recurrence or the chance of the cancer coming back is higher versus mastectomy.

In case of recurrence, your doctor may recommend mastectomy because radiation cannot be given effectively twice in the same breast plus any risk factor should now altogether be eliminated.

One clear disadvantage with lumpectomy is that if the pathology report indicates that the margins are not clear, the doctor will have to do another lumpectomy, called re-excision, to remove cancer tissues or may even recommend mastectomy procedure. This may happen within weeks from the first surgery.

In some cases, there may be loss of sensation in that part of the breast where the lumpectomy procedure was performed though this is mostly temporary.

If the size of the lump removed during lumpectomy is big then the shape and size of the affected breast is unlikely to match the untouched one. This may then call for breast reconstruction or use of partial breast prosthesis.

It is important to remember that survival rate is not affected by your decision of having lumpectomy or mastectomy. But, before taking any decision, it is advisable to consult your doctor and ask as many questions you may have on your mind and clear all doubts. Discuss with close friends and family. Ultimately, the final decision will be yours.


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