28th April 2021 by Jack Allan
Breast conserving surgery is treatment to remove an area of cancer from the breast. This type of surgery is also called a wide local excision or lumpectomy.
The surgeon removes the area of cancer and some of the surrounding breast tissue. They leave behind as much normal breast tissue as possible.
Reasons why this surgery may be recommended -
The cancer is small compared to the size of your breast
Where the cancer is within the breast
The cancer is in a single area of the breast only
During the operation, the surgeon removes the cancer and a margin of normal breast tissue all around it. They might also remove some or all of the lymph nodes in your armpit (axilla). If there are no cancer cells, your report will say that there is a clear margin. It is important to have clear margins with any surgery to remove a cancer. It means that you are unlikely to need more surgery. You might need more surgery if the margin around the cancer is not clear.
You will have a scar on your breast. You will have another scar under your armpit if you have lymph nodes taken away. Sometimes the surgeon can use an incision around the dark area surrounding the nipple. These scars will fade a bit over time.
This type of surgery may not change the look of your breast but in some cases the breast might be smaller and you may require an operation on your other breast so that they look similar.
You usually have radiotherapy to the whole breast after having breast conserving surgery to destroy any cancer cells that may still be in the breast.