Just like any other surgery, lumpectomy is also not totally free of risks. Along with the minor risks like bleeding, damage of nearby tissues and infection there are also certain major risks and complications like the following:
During the surgery, no matter how small the excision is, a part of the breast is removed. Hence, the breast gets deformed to some extent and does not match with the non affected one. The residual scar or dimpling also adds to the changed shape of the breast.
A possible side effect of this surgery is the loss of sensation in the breast area, depending upon the size of the tumor. This ability to feel can however return and not be lost forever. For some women who undergo a biopsy or dissection, possible numbness in the armpit or lymph node area may be expected. There might be certain disturbance in the range of motion of the shoulders as well.
About nearly 10% of the women who have had axillary node dissection develop a fluid buildup condition in the lymph node area. Such patients are advised not to wear anything tight around their arm for the rest of their life.
A condition in which the arm vein gets inflamed.
There are certain risks associated with the radiation therapy as well. These are however not so severe and goes off on its own. They include:
• Tiredness / fatigue
• Nausea or vomiting
• Hair loss
• Rashes or redness over the treated area
• Loss of appetite
Depression may also at times be experienced by some women. In such case one should always consult her doctor.
Lumpectomy – An Experiment
Even now lumpectomy is considered as a part of an experimental treatment on women diagnosed with breast cancer. The common practice these days is to perform lumpectomy and then give radiation to the entire breast irrespective of where the surgery was performed. However, few patients who fulfill certain criteria can go through partial breast treatment. There are two kinds of partial treatment:
Lumpectomy along with internal radiation therapy
In this procedure, lumpectomy is followed by an internal radiation therapy, which means certain small radioactive “seeds” are planted in a small tube or balloon at the site of the tumor. This helps in restricting the surgery to only one part of the breast. Along with this, post surgery, regular medical checkups like mammography and physical examinations are done to monitor the recovery of the wound.
Lumpectomy without radiation
In this procedure, the patient is treated with lumpectomy but no radiation therapy is given following it. The breast is closed and regular medical checkups are done.
Lumpectomy completely removes the possibility of recurrence of tumor in most cases. However, if any patient experiences any kind of rash, signs of infection, shortness of breath, chest pain, excessive fluid buildup, bleeding, etc., she should immediately report to her doctor and seek medical aid.