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Expert advice on lumpectomy from the National Center for Policy Research for Women & Families.

Q. "What will my breast look like after lumpectomy and radiation?"

A. Depending on the size of the cancer and the margins (tissue around the tumor that is free of cancer), and a woman's response to radiation, a breast may look almost identical after a lumpectomy, or it may look quite different. Radiation can cause a skin condition that looks like sunburn. This usually fades, but in some women it never goes away completely. It is also true that some women find that radiation makes their breast feel hard or firm. Again, this may last just a few months, or longer. However, firm or hard breasts are even more common among women who have implants after a mastectomy.