Breast surgery is a form of surgery performed on the breast to remove a lump that may be cancerous.
There are different causes of lumps in the breast and not all of them are cancerous. They include cysts, fibroadenoma, fibrocystic breasts, intraductal papillomas that are often harmless, and tumours that can be cancerous. Doing a biopsy and examining the cells from the tumour is the only way to determine if they are cancerous or benign.
If tests confirm that the tumour is cancerous, doctor will look at the size of the tumour and the stage of the cancer to determine which surgery to perform. They will also evaluate your condition and suggest the most suitable treatment for you.
A breast lump removal procedure can include breast conserving surgery, which involves the removal of the cancer and some of the surrounding tissue (lumpectomy) or the removal of 1/4 of the breast that contains the lump (quadrantectomy). In some instances, the surgery might involve the removal of the whole breast (mastectomy). Some of the lymph nodes from the armpit may also be removed during surgery.
Breast-Conserving Surgery and Mastectomy
Women with early-stage cancers can usually choose between having either a breast conserving surgery (BCS) or a mastectomy. A BCS only removes the affected part of the breast via lumpectomy or quadrantectomy, while mastectomy is the total removal of the breast. It is very important that you know all the facts about these 2 procedures before you make your decision. Some advantages for breast conserving surgery over mastectomy include:
- A woman keeps most of her breast
- Mastectomy does not give a better chance in long-term survival and most women will still need radiation therapy following the surgery
Laparoscopic (keyhole) surgery, a less invasive surgical intervention, uses an instrument called a mammotome which is a vacuum-assisted needle device that allows your surgeon to remove the whole breast lump or to take a biopsy (small tissue sample) for further diagnostic examination. This is a safe procedure that can be performed under local anaesthesia with minimal discomfort, and without the need for you to stay at the hospital.
Radioisotope Occult Lesion Localisation (ROLL)
Radioisotope occult lesion localisation (ROLL) technique allows non-palpable (too small to be felt by hand) tumours to be accurately located, and it ensures that the entire tumour is removed easily and reliably. This technique places a radioisotope marker in the centre of the tumour, under image guidance, and then a manual gamma probe is used to remove the tumour and nearby cancerous tissues. Breast surgery using the ROLL technique is usually faster and leads to a better clinical outcome.