A partial mastectomy involves removing the cancer from your breast with a rim, or margin, of normal breast tissue. This allows the healthy noncancerous part of your breast to be preserved and usually will not alter the sensation of the nipple. The benefit of this surgical choice is that it often preserves the cosmetics of the breast. Your surgeon from The Breast Center will make a decision about the volume of tissue that needs removal in order to maximize the chance of clear margins as confirmed by our pathologist. If the cancer cannot be felt, a needle (or wire) localization with numbing medication will be done by one of our radiologists just prior to your operation to help guide the surgeon directly to your cancer. Occasionally several wires may need to be placed in your breast to “bracket” an entire area of concern for excision (removal).
It is important to discuss with your surgeon the location of the scar and the likely cosmetic result or predicted breast deformity that may result from this procedure. The majority of patients who choose this option will also require postoperative radiation therapy. If radiation therapy is not a good option for you, then the choice of a partial mastectomy may also not be a good one.
A partial mastectomy is usually done as an outpatient procedure, and can be done either under sedation or a general anesthesia. It is often done with a sentinel lymph node biopsy.