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  • Cynthia M. Johnson, MA
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(Partial Mastectomy; Quadrantectomy; Segmentectomy; Tylectomy; Wedge Resection)


Lumpectomy is the removal of cancer in the breast. Healthy breast and lymph nodes may also be removed.

Reasons for Procedure

A lumpectomy is a treatment option for breast cancer.

Breast Cancer

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Possible Complications

Problems are rare, but all procedures have some risk. The doctor will go over problems that may happen, such as:

  • Infection
  • Numbness and loss of feeling
  • Breasts that do not match in size or shape
  • Anesthesia problems
  • Lymphedema—swelling of the arm caused by a build-up of fluid in the lymph nodes
  • Excess bleeding
  • Build-up of blood or fluid

Some things that may raise the risk of problems are:

What to Expect

Prior to Procedure

The doctor may use a wire to help mark tumors that can be seen on images but not felt. This process is called wire localization.

Talk to your doctor about your medicines. You may be asked to stop taking some medicines up to one week before surgery.

Do not eat or drink for 8 to 12 hours before surgery.


General anesthesia will block pain and keep you asleep during surgery.

Description of Procedure

A small cut will be made in the breast. The tumor will be cut out. Different amounts of tissue may be taken with it:
  • Lumpectomy—the tumor and a little tissue around it are removed
  • Wedge resection—the tumor and a larger amount of tissue around it are removed
  • Quadrantectomy—the tumor and a quarter of the breast around it are removed

A cut may also be made near the armpit to remove lymph nodes. Plastic tubes for drainage may be put in place. Incisions will be closed with stitches.

Immediately After Procedure

Right after the procedure, you will be in a recovery room where your blood pressure, pulse, and breathing will be watched. You may be given medicine to:

  • Reduce pain
  • Prevent infection
  • Prevent blood clots

Removed tissue will be studied. The findings may show if more surgery is needed. If you had cancer and it has spread, chemotherapy and radiation therapy may be needed.

How Long Will It Take?

About 1 to 3 hours

Will It Hurt?

Anesthesia will prevent pain during surgery. Pain and discomfort after surgery can be managed with medicines.

Postoperative Care

Some movement will be limited in the first few days or weeks.

Problems To Look Out For

Call your doctor if you have:

  • Signs of infection, such as fever or chills
  • Redness, swelling, pain, bleeding, or discharge from the incision site
  • Any problems with a drain that your doctor talked to you about
  • A lump, redness, or swelling in either breast, or oozing or discharge from either nipple
  • If lymph nodes were removed: redness, warmth, swelling, stiffness, or hardness in the arm or hand
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Pain that you cannot control with the medicines you were given
  • Cough, problems breathing, or chest pain
  • Pain and swelling in your feet, calves, or legs
  • Signs of depression that last longer than 2 weeks

If you think you have an emergency, call for medical help right away.





  • Breast cancer in women. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:
  • Exercises after breast surgery. American Cancer Society website. Available at:
  • Lumpectomy. Breast Cancer website. Available at:
  • Torres Lacomba, M., Yuste Sánchez, M.J., et al. Effectiveness of early physiotherapy to prevent lymphoedema after surgery for breast cancer: randomised, single blinded, clinical trial. BMJ. 2010; 340: b5396.
  • What to expect with lumpectomy. Breast Cancer website. Available at:
Last Updated:

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.