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NCCN Guidelines for Patients


Breast Cancer - Early-Stage


, Version 1.2016


Breast cancer surgery

Breast tumor surgery

Figure 3.1 Breast tumor surgeries

Lumpectomy and mastectomy are two surgeries that remove cancer in

the breast. Your treatment team will tell you how to prepare for and what

to expect from surgery. Briefly, you will be asked to stop eating, drinking,

and taking some medicines for a short period of time before the surgery.

If you smoke, it is important to stop.


A lumpectomy removes the tumor along with a surgical margin. Pain is

prevented with either local or general anesthesia. Often, breast tissue is

removed through a C-shaped cut. A lumpectomy is finished within 15 to

40 minutes. A lumpectomy will leave a small scar and may cause some

pain and swelling for about a week. It may also cause a dent in your

breast that can be fixed with breast reconstruction.


A total mastectomy removes the entire breast but not any chest muscle.

Pain is prevented with general anesthesia. Often, an oval-shaped cut is first

made around the nipple. Next, the breast tissue will be detached from the

skin and muscle and then removed. A total mastectomy is finished within

1 to 2 hours. A total mastectomy will leave a large scar and cause pain and

swelling. You may also have stiffness, severe tiredness despite sleeping

(fatigue), and uncomfortable crawly sensations as your nerves heal.


Total mastectomy