What Will the Surgeon Do If More Cancer Is Evident During Lumpectomy Surgery?

Question: What will the surgeon do if more cancer is evident during lumpectomy surgery?

Answer: If more cancer is found during a lumpectomy, and all the patient has agreed to is a lumpectomy, the surgeon may try to increase the margins by taking more tissue from the edges that he or she feels is involved with the tumor. In some circumstances, the patient may have given permission for a mastectomy, and the surgeon might go on and do that. But that's really an old-fashioned way to do this. The modern way to do this is to make the diagnosis of cancer with a needle, to decide what procedure you want to do -- either a breast-preserving procedure, which would require a lumpectomy, or a mastectomy, which is a large procedure -- and then to go to the operating room and do that procedure. If you do a lumpectomy and more cancer is found, then additional tissue needs to be removed if you want to continue to preserve that breast.

Next: Is It Normal to Have More Than One Lumpectomy?

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