Ever heard of a breast lumpectomy? Well if you have heard of breast cancer, then you most definitely need to know what a breast lumpectomy is as well. In most cases of breast cancer wherein the tumor inside the breast is large or invasive, the best course of action opted by the doctor would be a mastectomy, i.e. the complete removal of the affected breast via surgical means.
What is a Breast Lumpectomy?
Lumpectomy is a medical procedure that is often used to treat comparatively small, benign and non invasive tumors inside the breast. The procedure involves removing the cancerous growth along with a small amount of breast tissue surrounding the tumor. The rest of the breast is left intact.
Lumpectomy would effectively help women suffering from breast cancer to retain their breasts. The procedure is also less invasive when compared to other standard treatments for breast cancer. However, as a surgical procedure, lumpectomy does come with its fair share of cons and complications that one need to be completely aware of before opting for the procedure.
Complications That Arise Due To Lumpectomy
If you are thinking of going in for a lumpectomy, here are some possible complications that you need to be aware of beforehand.
Breast cancer usually spreads through the lymph nodes present in the region. And so, during a lumpectomy the doctor would usually remove a few lymph nodes around the tumor in order to prevent the disease from spreading to the other parts of the breast after the procedure.
These lymph nodes usually carry lymphatic fluids to and from the hands and arms. With the removal of a few lymph nodes, the flow of lymphatic fluid would be curbed. Hence, there would no way for this fluid to move out of the lymphatic vessels present in the arms.
This in turn can cause painful swelling in the hands and arms. In certain cases, the patient would even find it difficult to move her hands or arms. The condition can worsen to the extent that the patient would need to cover her arms in pressure bandages and exercise continuously for months in order to get relief from the issue.
In some cases, women may develop allergic reactions to the procedure and the medications used in the same. Some ladies may get allergic side reactions to the anesthesia that is administered during the process.
In certain cases, the patient in question could also develop allergies to the drugs prescribed before and after the lumpectomy. These include conditions like rashes, hives or in the worst case scenario, anaphylactic shock (a life threatening allergic reaction that involves the entire body and causes symptoms like abdominal pain/cramps, respiratory issues, disorientation, heart palpitations, wheezing, vomiting and itchiness etc.).
As in the case of any surgical treatment for breast cancer, lumpectomy would also cause internal scarring in patients. During the procedure, the tumor and a part of the breast tissue are removed from the breast.
As the breast heals afterwards the connective tissues inside the breast form a dense, hard scar tissue around the lumpectomy site. This in turn would lead to an increase in breast density. The area around the infected site would also become hard.
There are also chances for the dense scar tissue to obstruct the view of mammograms and ultrasounds done in the future to check for infection or re-growth. The tissue would contain plenty of scars that would make it difficult for doctors to diagnose other lumps or lesions that may form in the breast afterwards. This in turn would make it necessary for the patient who has undergone lumpectomy to undergo more biopsies to monitor breast health.
Although these are the more common complications that may arise out of a lumpectomy, there are other smaller complications that can pose a hindrance to speedy recovery after the procedure. These would include blood clots in the surgical site, buildup of blood or clear fluid in the surgical site, breast disfigurement, skin infections or numb nipples/underarms.
Who is at risk of developing complications due to a Lumpectomy?
Although lumpectomy could cause complications in many women who opt for the procedure, some women would be more vulnerable to the complications mentioned above. The risk factor increases manifold in these women owing to malnutrition, obesity, smoking, existing medical ailments, and ongoing medications or treatments etc.