The Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania
Last Modified: November 14, 2013
Also referred to as: Needle localization Lumpectomy; Breast sparing surgery; Breast Conserving Therapy, BCT
A surgical procedure where a surgeon removes the breast cancer, using imaging guidance, but does not remove the whole breast. Needle localization is necessary when a breast cancer cannot felt by you or your surgeon.
On the day of surgery, a needle and wire will be placed in the breast to pinpoint the core biopsy clip or the area of cancer cells for the surgeon. This is done by a radiologist, often in the radiology department, who first injects the breast with numbing medicine, then, using imaging guidance (mammogram, ultrasound or MRI), will insert a needle into the breast. A thin, flexible wire is then threaded through the needle into the breast. Once the wire is placed, a mammogram is taken to help the surgeon plan the surgery.
In the operating room, under anesthesia, the cancer is surgically removed along with a small area of normal breast tissue surrounding the cancer. The borders (edges) of the tissue removed are referred to as surgical margins and should be clear of cancer. This helps reduce the risk of cancer growing back in the same breast.
No. This is usually done as outpatient or "same day" surgery.
If the pathology report says that cancer is seen at or close to the surgical margin, more surgery may be recommended to obtain "clear margins".
Your surgeon will discuss specific recovery issues with you. In general, you will be up and moving the day after surgery, with some limitations to your normal schedule and exercise routine in the first week or so. After surgery, you could experience any of the following side effects, which will resolve over time:
If you have a post-surgical bandage, remove per your surgeon's instructions (often within 48 hours). Once the bandage is removed, you may shower, but do not scrub the incision. To dry, carefully pat the incision with a clean towel. Avoid lotions, powders or deodorant on or near the incision during the first 1-2 weeks until it is fully closed.
Most surgeons use dissolvable sutures so you won't see any sutures and they don't need to be removed. On the outside, some surgeons use surgical glue over the incision to give added protection, others use paper tape called "steri-strips" while some use nothing at all. Both glue and steri-strips can get wet in the shower.
Walking is good. Take rest periods throughout the day as needed. Move your arm on the side of surgery as naturally as possible; do not feel as if you have to guard the area.
Deep breathing and relaxation are important to help with pain, keep lungs healthy after anesthesia and promote good drainage of lymphatic fluid. Try to perform deep breathing and relaxation exercises several times a day in the first week, or whenever you notice you are particularly tense.
This hand-out provides general information only. Please be sure to discuss the specifics of your surgical plan and recovery with your surgeon.