Breast Lump Removal
During a breast lump removal, a worrisome lump or mass in the breast is taken out. It is then examined for signs of breast cancer.
Who is a candidate for the procedure?
The thought of finding a lump in the breast is frightening for most women. Anyone, male or female, young or old, can develop a breast lump. An individual who notices a new or changing lump in the breast, wall of the chest, or armpit should contact the healthcare provider. If the provider thinks the lump may not be normal, it should be checked for cancer.
It is not unusual to find breast lumps. Many men, women, and children have normal lumps and bumps that are not a problem. These can just be watched for changes if the individual and the healthcare provider agree that is the best approach.
Some lumps are merely fluid-filled cysts. When the fluid inside them is drained with a needle, the lump collapses. A biopsy is done on almost all lumps in women over the age of 20. A biopsy is generally done in those who have a family or personal history of breast cancer.
How is the procedure performed?
The procedure can be done several ways, depending on the type of lump.
If the lump is fluid-filled, a simple needle aspiration in the office is often all that is needed. The skin above the lump is cleansed and then numbed with a local anesthetic. The lump is pierced with a needle and the fluid is drawn off. Usually, this fluid is sent to a pathologist to examine for cancerous cells. In most cases the lump goes away in a few days after swelling caused by the procedure disappears.
If the lump is harder and feels more solid than a cyst, it is usually removed completely in an operating room or an office equipped for minor surgery. The person having the procedure can choose one type of anesthetic or a combination. A local anesthetic can be injected to numb the area of the operation. A general anesthetic puts the person to sleep.
While the person is still awake, the location of the lump is confirmed. Some surgeons mark the spot on the skin with a pen. Then general anesthesia is given or a local anesthetic is injected into the area. The skin above the lump is cleansed and the area is opened. The breast lump is separated from normal tissue and removed for the pathologist to examine. The incision is then closed with stitches or tapes. A dressing is put over the wound and the person is awakened.