Breast-Conserving Surgery

Expert advice on breast-conserving surgery from the National Center for Policy Research for Women & Families.
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Q. "If I choose a breast-conserving surgery, how much of my breast has to be taken out? Will it affect the look of my breast? What will the scar look like?"

A. Breast-conserving surgery is also known as lumpectomy, partial mastectomy, segmental mastectomy, or quadrantectomy. These surgeries remove the cancer but leave most of the breast intact. In a lumpectomy, the surgeon removes the cancer and some normal breast tissue surrounding the lump in order to obtain "margins" around the tumor that are free of cancer. The other types of breast-conserving surgery remove a somewhat larger area of the healthy breast. The appearance of the breast will depend on the size of the breast compared to the size of the cancer and the amount of healthy breast tissue that is removed. The appearance of the scar depends on the type of surgery and the location of the cancer.


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