A lumpectomy, or a wide local excision, is also referred to as breast-conserving surgery. The surgeon removes the cancerous area and a surrounding margin of normal tissue. A second incision may be made in order to remove the lymph nodes. This treatment aims to maintain a normal breast appearance when the surgery is over.
After the lumpectomy, a five- to eight-week course of radiation therapy is often used to treat the remaining breast tissue. The majority of women who have small, early-stage breast cancers are excellent candidates for this treatment approach.
In April 2002, when the doctor told us my wife, Chris, had breast cancer, the first two words out of my mouth were "Oh" and a four-letter word. I felt shock and disbelief -- that this kind of thing happens to other people, not to us. I had no idea how I would handle this -- do all the caregiving, plus make a living. Right away, my attitude was, "It's her job to get better, and it's my job to do everything else." But it still seemed impossible.
As it turned out, Chris had stage 3 breast cancer and...
Women who are not usually eligible for a lumpectomy include those who have already had radiation therapy to the affected breast, have two or more areas of cancer in the same breast that are too far apart to be removed through one incision, have a large tumor, or have cancer that was not completely removed during the lumpectomy surgery. Also, women with an advanced stage or metastatic cancer are not eligible for a lumpectomy.