Get Well Soon
Helping you make a speedy recovery after breast-conserving surgery
Who this leaflet is for
This leaflet is for anyone who is recovering from, or who is about to undergo, lumpectomy or breast-conserving surgery for breast cancer. It should be read in conjunction with any other information you have already been given about your procedure.
Knowing what to expect after the operation can help you to make a quicker recovery and get back to enjoying the best possible quality of life. In the pages that follow, you’ll find information that will help you do that. A diagnosis of breast cancer can provoke a wide range of feelings and emotions; these can be frightening and difficult to deal with. There are also web-links to other sources of valuable information, such as the Macmillan website, which contains a wealth of useful information.
The technical term for your breast operation is wide local excision. This is how your surgeon and other health professionals who are helping you may refer to it. The operation involves removal of the lump or abnormal area and a small amount of the normal tissue around it, whilst conserving the breast shape. When you have a lumpectomy, most women will usually be offered surgery to remove some or all of the lymph nodes in the armpit (axilla) on the same side. The extent of your surgery will influence how quickly you recover.
Most women undergo surgery followed by either radiotherapy, chemotherapy, anti-hormone tablets or any combination of these. After lumpectomy, almost all women with invasive breast cancer will be offered radiotherapy. Some studies have shown benefit in giving anti-hormone tablets or chemotherapy before surgery to reduce the size of the lump, allowing it to be more easily removed. However, your individual treatment plan will be discussed at multidisciplinary team meetings with all the specialists involved in your care; they will make recommendations together and then discuss these treatment options with you. You may also be asked if you would like to take part in national clinical trials; these studies help us to develop better treatments and improve outcomes for patients in the future.
Every individual has different needs and recovers in different ways – so not all the advice in this leaflet will be suitable for everybody. This leaflet offers broad guidelines for people:
- Who do not have any complications with their surgery.
- Whose job is not physically demanding.
Everyone who undergoes a lumpectomy should have an allocated contact at the hospital (a key-worker or breast care nurse specialist), who helps to coordinate all aspects of care. They will help you make the right choices for a safe and speedy recovery.
Your surgeon, general practitioner (GP) and other healthcare professionals will also offer you a lot of very good advice – but ultimately it’s you that has to make the decisions about your care.
This leaflet is a guide to recovering from lumpectomy of the breast. It does not provide specific medical advice or diagnosis, nor does it give advice about whether you should consent to an operation. All of these matters depend on individual medical advice from your consultant surgeon based on your own health, medical condition and personal circumstances.