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Lumpectomy is surgery to remove cancer or other abnormal tissue from your breast.

Lumpectomy is also called breast-conserving surgery (BCS) or wide local excision (WLE) because, unlike a mastectomy, only a portion of the breast is removed. 

When might a lumpectomy be the right operation for you?

The aim of a lumpectomy is to remove the abnormal breast tissue with a safety margin of normal tissue around it, whilst maintaining an acceptable appearance of the breast.

Studies have shown that lumpectomy with radiotherapy is as effective as mastectomy in preventing cancer recurrence in early stage breast cancer.

Lumpectomy with may not be the right operation for you if you:

  • have more than one cancer in different parts of the breast

  • have a large tumour and smaller breasts, meaning lumpectomy would distort the breast

  • have already had radiotherapy to the breast in the past

  • have a connective tissue disease such as lupus or scleroderma

  • are pregnant

When the lump cannot be felt

If you have a breast lump that needs to be removed and cannot be felt, you will need to have it localised before your surgery.

There are a few different ways of localising, the most common is to use a Hookwire.

With this procedure, you will have an ultrasound or mammogram on the morning of your surgery, and the Radiologist will insert a fine needle into the lump.

Your Surgeon will then use this needle as a guide to find the area that needs to be removed.

What to expect

A lumpectomy is usually an overnight stay or day procedure.

It is done with a general anaesthetic and may or may not include surgery for the lymph nodes (see Axillary Surgery)

You will be given specific instructions on fasting and when and where you need to go on the day of your surgery (depending on whether you need any procedures beforehand).

Generally you will need to fast for at least 6 hours prior.

Lumpectomy wounds are usually closed with dissolvable stitches.


It will usually take at least two business days to have the pathology results from your surgery.

You will have a post-operative appointment with your surgeon about one week after your surgery to check your wound and discuss your results.

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