3 Surgical Procedures For The Diagnosis And Treatment Of Breast Cancer

Several procedures are used when breast cancer is a concern. Minimally-invasive procedures can help make a formal diagnosis of breast cancer, while more complex procedures are frequently used to remove cancerous tumors before using other cancer treatments.


Biopsies are used to diagnose breast cancer and help with staging. They may be performed as a fine-needle aspiration or as an open procedure that removes a sample for testing. Fine-needle biopsies may be performed as an outpatient procedure by a radiologist. For a fine-needle aspiration, the radiologist numbs the skin, which may not require any further anesthetic, and a needle is inserted under imaging guidance to the area that needs to be sampled. With an open biopsy, a surgeon can make a small incision in the skin and remove a tissue sample. The biopsy can often be performed with local anesthetic. If the mass is deeper, it is possible you might need sedation. Any tissue removed is sent to pathology for testing and staging.


A lumpectomy is often used in the treatment of breast cancer or it may be performed for suspicious masses that are not clearly cancerous after a biopsy. Breast surgeries are frequently performed by a general surgeon and may require sedation. You are typically given intravenous anesthetic for the procedure. As long as the procedure is uncomplicated, it may not take long to complete. A lumpectomy may be used instead of a mastectomy to remove cancers that are not advanced and mostly confined to a single area. Your surgeon may also remove neighboring tissue and lymph nodes for further testing. If you had a lumpectomy because of cancer, you may need additional treatments after surgery, such as chemotherapy and/or radiation, to destroy any cancer cells that may remain in the surrounding tissue or those that could have spread beyond the breast.


A mastectomy may be done to prevent breast cancer in women at high-risk, or as part of a treatment plan for current breast cancer. For a mastectomy, the entire breast is removed, which includes breast tissue and ducts. In some cases, both breasts may be removed as a preventative measure. The lining of the muscle and lymph nodes may also be removed during a mastectomy. Women who have a mastectomy as a preventative measure may also choose to have their breast reconstructed at the same time. If this occurs, your general surgeon will work closely with a plastic surgeon to coordinate the procedures. You will need to discuss any reconstruction options with your surgical team and oncologist if you are having a mastectomy for the treatment of cancer. For women who are having additional cancer treatments, it may not be in their best interest to have reconstruction immediately after a mastectomy, if healing could be complicated.

There are several surgical procedures used in the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer. If you have breast cancer, you and your doctors can develop the right treatment plan for your unique situation.

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Preparing for a Stem Cell Transplant

About six months ago, my wonderful father discovered he had an aggressive form of lymphoma. At this time, his doctor informed him he would need to undergo six rounds of chemotherapy. My dad’s physician also told him he would need to have a stem cell transplant immediately after he completed the chemotherapy. To prepare for the stem cell transplant, my father was put on a special diet. His doctor recommended he eat a lot of protein. My dad was also told to drink plenty of water and exercise regularly. On this blog, I hope you will learn smart tips to help you or one of your loved ones prepare for a stem cell transplant. Enjoy!


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