What exactly is breast-conservation surgery, and how does it work?

Breast-conserving surgery (BCS) is a procedure that can be used as a part of the treatment plan for breast cancer. It is also referred to as a partial mastectomy or a lumpectomy.

During BCS, the cancerous area of the breast is removed. The malignant mass and some surrounding breast tissue are excised. The size and location of the lump determine the amount of breast tissue removed, says Dr Suvadip Chakrabarti, a breast cancer surgeon in Kolkata.

The surgeon can remove some lymph nodes under the arm to determine whether cancer has spread as breast cancer frequently spreads to lymph nodes.

Why might I require breast-conservation surgery?

Some women with a small cancerous lump in one place could benefit from this procedure. Many women with early-stage breast cancer can benefit from it as well. BCS entails removing a smaller portion of the breast. One might be concerned that this will increase the likelihood of the cancer returning. On the other hand, BCS can be as effective as surgery to remove the entire breast (mastectomy).

According to studies, women who have BCS followed by radiation therapy have long-term survival rates comparable to those who have a mastectomy, says the breast cancer surgery doctor in Kolkata.

What are the risks of breast-conserving surgery?

All surgeries have some risks. Some possible difficulties of BCS include:

  • Short-term (temporary) breast swelling
  • Hardness due to scar tissue that can develop at the incision site
  • A change in the size and shape of the breast
  • Swelling of the arm, if lymph nodes were extracted
  • Wound infection or bleeding
  • A clear fluid (seroma) is often present in the wound after BCS

There can be other risks depending on one’s specific medical condition. One should discuss any concerns with their doctor before the surgery.

Reconstructive surgery after breast-conserving surgery

According to the breast cancer doctor in Kolkata, when it comes to the appearance of one’s breasts after surgery, one should consult with their doctor. Depending on how much the breast is removed, the appearance may vary. Reconstructive surgery could be a viable option. Alternatively, it may make the other breast smaller to make both breasts appear more similar. This may be feasible for the surgeon to do during the BCS.

Before undergoing the surgery, patients should consult their doctor about what to expect and their options.

Getting ready for breast-conserving surgery

  • The doctor will explain the process and let the patient ask any questions they might have.
  • One will be asked to sign a consent form that permits the procedure.
  • The doctor will take the medical history. They will also give the patient a physical exam. This is to be sure one is in good health before the surgery. One may also have blood tests or other tests.
  • One will be asked not to eat or drink anything for some time before the surgery. The surgeon will give specific instructions about this.
  • One should talk to their doctor about all the medicines they take. This includes both over-the-counter and prescription medication. It also contains vitamins, herbs, and other supplements.
  • One should tell their provider if they have a history of bleeding disorders.
  • A sedative can be administered before the procedure to help the patient relax.

The doctor can give other instructions based on the patient’s medical condition. For more details, consult Dr Suvadip Chakrabarti, a breast cancer surgeon in Kolkata.