Breast Conservation Surgery: Importance and side-effects
Nov. 23, 2021, 6:11 p.m.

Breast Conservation Surgery: Importance and side-effects

The breast is a surface organ and Breast Cancer surgery remains away from vital organs of the body. Yet, the breast is the most delicate and important part of a woman’s body. She attaches her self-image to it. This is why Breast Cancer appears as a major physical and mental disruptor for most people and a complete breast removal surgery (Mastectomy) can have major psychological effects. Multiple options have evolved for women who wish to preserve the breast but in India the awareness level of these breast preservation options or breast reconstruction is low.

Breast-conserving surgery (BCS) is a safe and good option for women detected with early-stage Breast cancers. The highlight of this surgery is that women get to keep their body image intact without having to get the whole part removed.

Breast-Conserving Surgery is for you if you:

1. Are very concerned about losing a breast

2.Agreeable to radiation therapy

3. Have not already had your breast treated with other therapies

4. Have only one area of cancer in the breast/multiple areas close together that can be removed together without altering the look of the breast.

5. If you have a tumor that is smaller than 5 cm (2 inches), and proportionally smaller than the size of your breast.

6. Are not pregnant or, if pregnant, will not need radiation therapy.

7. Do not have a genetic factor such as a BRCA or ATM mutation, which might increase your chance of a second breast cancer

8. Do not have certain serious connective tissue diseases such as scleroderma or lupus, which may make you especially sensitive to the side effects of radiation therapy

Side effects of breast-conserving surgery

Side effects of breast-conserving surgery can include:

1. Pain or tenderness in the breast for some days

2. Temporary swelling of the breast which gradually subsides

3. Scar/dimple where the surgery happened

4. The shape of the breast may change

5. Nerve pain around the torso region

6. Other side effects such as lymphedema may occur if axillary lymph nodes are also removed

Breast surgery for Breast Cancer is now planned in such a way that scars are small or are hidden away so as to not serve as a permanent reminder. Discharge from surgery often happens on the next day itself with little to no restrictions post-surgery. As awareness is increasing, the percentage of women opting in favor of breast conservation surgery or breast reconstruction is steadily increasing over the years. 

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