Breast Conservation Surgery: What To Know

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Did you know that breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among American women? In 2017, it is estimated that roughly 30% of newly diagnosed cancers in women will be breast cancers. In the United States, about 1 in 8 women will develop invasive breast cancer in her lifetime.

With more than 2.9 million breast cancer survivors in the United States, we have all known someone whose life has been changed due to this disease. However, through research, fundraisers and medical advancements, we have seen an encouraging improvement in screening, survival, and cosmetic outcomes for breast cancer patients.

What do I need to know about breast conservation surgery?

Breast conserving surgery has been offered to women for several decades. It became even more popular in the 1990s due to increased screening and the “Nancy Reagan effect”. Large trials have demonstrated that breast conservation surgery is equivalent to mastectomy for breast cancer treatment. If lumpectomy (also called partial mastectomy) is offered to you, it can result in short operation times, easier recovery times, and allow you to save your breast.

Want to Learn More?

Hidden Scar Breast Cancer Surgery is an advanced approach to removing breast cancer. Learn more about the Hidden Scar surgical approach at Ochsner.

Historically, a lumpectomy involved removing a large amount of breast tissue which could result in a deformity in the breast. With improved localization tools and better techniques for eliminating deformities and scars on the breast, breast conservation is an excellent option for some patients.

How is the mass found in surgery?

Screening mammography has allowed doctors the opportunity to find small cancers in the breast before they even become palpable. This is great for detection but poses a challenge in removing the appropriate section of tissue in the breast when a lumpectomy is performed.

Traditionally, wires have been placed in the breast on the day of surgery in order to locate the lesion of interest properly. This has provided inconvenience, pain, and added stress for our patients. We have recently adopted new technology to replace the wire technique, making a more seamless transition through surgery for our patients.

Magnetic seed localization can be performed up to 30 days prior to your breast conservation surgery, decreasing scheduling conflicts, and improving comfort and satisfaction of our patients.

In addition, ultrasound localization can be performed in the operating room at the same time as your surgical procedure, therefore eliminating any additional localization procedure for the patient.

What will my breast look like after treatment?

Historically lumpectomy caused breast defects and required localization of the area using a wire to guide surgery. Newer surgical and localization techniques allow excellent cosmesis (the surgical correction of a disfiguring defect) which results in improved patient satisfaction. At the time of the surgery we can place our incisions where they are virtually hidden. Watch this informative animated video on the different surgical options to learn more.

Women today have very good options for managing a breast cancer diagnosis. With advancements in systemic treatments, women are surviving longer. By offering women surgical options with hidden scars and improved cosmesis, we are minimizing the reminder that they see every day of their battle against breast cancer and therefore improving their quality of life post surgery.

Ultimately, your treatment and surgical plans come down to patient preference. By meeting with one of Ochsner’s breast surgical oncologist, patients will have all options discussed at length to decide the best individualized approach.

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