Will I Need a Blood Transfusion for Cancer Surgery?

Question: Will I need a blood transfusion and should I donate blood before breast cancer surgery?

Answer: Blood transfusion is only rarely required for most of the procedures that we do for surgery for breast cancer. Certainly, it would be very unusual to require transfusion for a lumpectomy or even a mastectomy. In addition, with the types of reconstruction that involve insertion of a prosthetic implant, again, transfusion would be very unlikely to be necessary.

The exception to this is the patient who has reconstruction using a complex tissue transfer -- or flap reconstruction -- where a part of the patient's own body is harvested or removed from one part of the body and moved to the chest wall to reconstruct a breast mound. In this instance, there is more blood loss, and the possibility for the need of a blood transfusion does exist. If there is no real urgency about performing the breast cancer surgery, which there usually isn't, it certainly would be appropriate for the patient to donate several units of blood for herself to be used at the time of this type of procedure.

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