Mastectomy and Lumpectomy

Surgical precision. Emotional reassurance.

What is a mastectomy and lumpectomy?

Mastectomy refers to breast removal surgery and lumpectomy is breast-conserving surgery. Both are treatments for breast cancer. During a mastectomy, the entire breast is removed, while a lumpectomy removes only the cancerous tissue and a small margin of healthy tissue. Both procedures may involve the removal of lymph nodes to see if the cancer has spread.

Reconstruction surgery can be done during or after a mastectomy. Radiation therapy, chemotherapy, hormone therapy, targeted therapy or immunotherapy may be used in conjunction with surgery.

You may be a candidate for a lumpectomy if:

  • Your tumor is small and can be completely removed with surgery.
  • Your tumor is located in an area of the breast that can be easily reached.
  • You have a low risk of developing breast cancer in the other breast.

Talk to your doctor about which surgery is right for you. Your doctor can discuss the risks and benefits of each surgery and help you make the best decision for your individual situation.

Who is a candidate for a mastectomy or lumpectomy?

If you have been diagnosed with breast cancer, your doctor may recommend a mastectomy or lumpectomy as a treatment option. The type of surgery that's best for you will depend on the size and location of your tumor, as well as your overall health.

You may be a candidate for a mastectomy if:

  • Your tumor is large and cannot be removed with a lumpectomy.
  • Your tumor is in a difficult-to-reach area of the breast.
  • You have a high risk of developing breast cancer in the other breast.
  • You have a family history of breast cancer.

What to expect with a mastectomy or lumpectomy

Before your surgery

  • Inform your doctor of all medications and supplements you are taking. Some may increase the risk of bleeding or interfere with anesthesia.
  • Follow all pre-surgery instructions provided by your doctor. This may include fasting and stopping certain medications.
  • Arrange for someone to drive you home after surgery, as you won't be able to drive yourself.

During your surgery

  • You will be given medicine to keep you asleep and pain-free during surgery.
  • The surgical incision size will vary depending on the location and your treatment plan.
  • One or more drains will be placed to collect fluid from the surgical area.
  • Your incision will be closed with stitches, tape or skin glue, and covered with a bandage.

After your surgery

  • You will spend time in recovery and may have a special bandage around your chest.
  • Depending on your recovery, you may go home the same day or stay in the hospital for a few days.
  • You will receive instructions on caring for yourself at home, including wound care, pain management and activity restrictions.
  • Follow-up appointments will be scheduled to check your healing and discuss further treatment options.
  • Some discomfort or pain is normal after surgery and can be managed with medication.

Benefits of a mastectomy or lumpectomy

Undergoing a mastectomy or lumpectomy is a big decision. It can also lead to positive outcomes:

  • Improved physical well-being: By removing cancerous tissue and affected lymph nodes, these procedures can significantly reduce the risk of cancer recurrence.
  • Enhanced mental and emotional health: Successfully treating breast cancer can reduce anxiety and stress, promoting a greater sense of emotional well-being.
  • Preservation of breast aesthetics: Techniques such as skin-sparing and nipple-sparing mastectomies preserve a natural appearance, which can help individuals feel more confident.

Advanced technology

WellSpan’s cancer centers feature the latest in technology, including 3D mammography, MRI-guided breast biopsies and intraoperative radiation therapy. This technology allows us to diagnose breast cancer earlier and more accurately, and to provide more effective treatment.

Comprehensive care

We offer a full range of services for breast cancer patients, including surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, hormone therapy, targeted therapy and immunotherapy. We also offer genetic counseling, nutrition counseling and psychosocial support.

Patient-centered care

We believe that you are the most important member of your care team. We will work with you to create a personalized treatment plan that meets your individual needs and goals. We will also provide you with the support and resources you need to cope with your diagnosis and treatment.


We have convenient locations throughout central Pennsylvania, so you can receive the care you need close to home. We also offer extended hours and weekend appointments to make it easier for you to fit your appointments into your busy schedule.