The incidence of pain and lumps in the breast is on the rise. Breast cancer has grown in incidence over the years. More women are getting diagnosed with it, and the age at which they are being diagnosed has reduced too. Therefore, preventative checks and screenings have gone up significantly. The number of women diagnosed with small lumps has gone up drastically. The good thing is that since these are diagnosed in the early stages, the treatment is simpler and the prognosis far better than women who get diagnosed much later in life.
In a majority of cases, once a lump is identified the most preferred treatment is removal. This is known as lumpectomy. However, before a final decision is made to remove the lump, there are certain tests that are run by the doctor to confirm the diagnosis and extent of spread.
- A thorough breast exam to identify if this is an isolated lump or if there are more lumps in either breast. The exact shape and size of the lump also need to be identified so that treatment can be planned accordingly.
- Imaging to see if the lymph nodes have been involved. In most cases, there could be spread to the lymph nodes in the armpits which also need to be removed if required. If the lump is too big or too many in number, then a mastectomy may be required instead of a lumpectomy. This requires removal of the entire breast tissue on one or both sides (rarely) along with involved lymph nodes.
Pre-surgery: Once the diagnosis is confirmed, then the doctor will plan treatment. Prior to the surgery,
- Talk to your doctor about your other medical conditions and medications and allergies, if any
- Gynecologic history is very important to be discussed in detail
- Blood thinners have to be stopped prior to the surgery
- Post-surgery care needs to be planned, including a caretaker for a few days and postop care
- Lumpectomy or mastectomy is often done under general anaesthesia
- This requires hospitalization and carries the risks associated with anaesthesia
- The outlined breast tissue or complete breast and surrounding lymph nodes will be removed. The area will be closed using sutures and bandaged
- The wound needs to heal, and so postop care is very important
- For the first few days, painkillers and antibiotics are used to control pain and infection
- As a follow-up, some women may require radiation therapy to contain the suspicious tissue that may be left behind after lumpectomy
- If extensive breast tissue was removed, some women may prefer to have reconstructive surgery done
- Remember that lumpectomy is not a definitive procedure, and there could be cases that require a repeat operation
- Less invasive compared to a mastectomy
- The appearance of the breast is minimally affected, and symmetry is maintained
- May not ensure complete removal
- May require additional radiation therapy
- May require repeat surgery
In case you have a concern or query you can always consult an expert & get answers to your questions!