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.
A mastectomy is surgery to remove a breast. In the past, a radical mastectomy with complete removal of the breast was the standard treatment for breast cancer. However, surgical breakthroughs over the past two decades have given women more options than ever before. Less invasive breast-conserving therapy may be equally effective as mastectomy for treating breast cancer for some women.
The type of mastectomy and treatment for breast cancer depends on several key factors, including:
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.