All About Lumpectomy And Radiation Therapy

Lumpectomy and Radiation often go hand-in-hand because radiation therapy post-breast cell removal reduces the chances of breast cancer recurrence in remaining tissues. Generally, doctors suggest that women who have undergone lumpectomy get radiation therapy, so they are safe for the rest of their life. So, people who have read about lumpectomy know it well. But if you have not researched a  lumpectomy and wish to learn more, this blog is for you. 

What is lumpectomy? 

You have all heard about mastectomy – the process of removal of the entire breast due to breast cancer. Mastectomy and lumpectomy bear a streak difference. In lumpectomy, cancer cells and some of the surrounding healthy breast tissues are removed. Women undergoing lumpectomy have most of their breast tissues intact, helping them retain their breast shape later. But, this process comes with the uncertainty of cancer recurrence in healthy breast tissues. Therefore, doctors often suggest radiation therapy to patients so that breast cancer does not recur. This is the place where radiation therapy jumps in. 

Also read: Benefits of Mastectomy Sports Bra

When do doctors suggest lumpectomy? 

Using lumpectomy as the medical procedure to remove cancer cells is suggested only when;

  • The tumor is of small size and has minimal spreading 
  • The doctor understands the need for lumpectomy 
  • The patient can successfully complete radiation therapy post-surgery 
  • Breast cancer is only affecting one breast 

But positive responses to all these concerns are not even enough if the doctor finds that the patient has multiple tumor cells. The doctor may also not suggest a lumpectomy if you are pregnant or have had radiation therapy earlier for the same breast. In such cases, lumpectomy as a medical procedure is cornered, and mastectomy is preferred. 

Why is radiation therapy necessary post-lumpectomy? 

During the cancer cell or tumor cell removal, there are chances of residual microscopic cancer cells in the breast, which may cause recurrence later. So, to even remove the microscopic possibility of recurrence, doctors suggest lumpectomy and radiation therapy together. With radiation therapy, microscopic cancer cells are killed, and chances of recurrence become close to negligible. But often, not all providers suggest radiation therapy when you have the genetic mutation, lupus, and inflammatory type breast cancer. 

How do you get prepared for a lumpectomy?

Overall, getting diagnosed with breast cancer and preparing for lumpectomy is overwhelming, but still, you need to be well-prepared for the journey you will begin.   Therefore, you should be aware of every detail required to prepare for a lumpectomy. 

You must consult with your provider and ask about the procedure. In the case of lumpectomy, your doctor will look at your cancer location and if it has spread.  With the help of imaging, he will explain to you the procedure and how much area it will require to be removed. 

If the size of the tumor is bigger, your doctor/provider might enlist the help of a reconstructive surgeon for ongoing assistance, such as an oncoplastic lumpectomy. 

Therefore, you need to have a good consultation with your doctor regarding the operation procedure. If not once, ask them twice until your doubts are resolved. Also, ask for health and safety guidance needed post-surgery

You must ask about anaesthesia as well. Doctors use general anaesthesia primarily. But if you want, local anaesthesia, you can ask if it can be administered, if you are brave enough to stay conscious during the procedure.

What are general tips for lumpectomy?

Your doctor will explain the procedure and tips before the surgery, but here are quick ones to jot down for the safe side. 


Consult your doctor and stop taking blood thinning medicines, lumpectomy has the risk of excessive bleeding. Therefore, most doctors stop or ask to stop blood thinning medicines like aspirin to reduce blood loss. Check with your doctor for his concerns. 

  • Stop eating and drinking 8 to 12 hours before the procedure 

Fasting for 12 hours straight before the surgery is always necessary when general anaesthesia is to be administered. It reduces post-surgery complications. 

  • Bring a companion to take care of you post-surgery 

The whole surgery is overwhelming and may cause you physical and emotional discomfort. Therefore, bring one of your family and friend to take care of you post-surgery. 

  • Confirm your insurance coverage for you surgery 

 You may have a deductible or coinsurance remaining, that they will ask to be paid.  Most will make payment arrangements for you.

You can also read: Lymphedema and Breast Surgery: Things You Need to Know