Partial Mastectomy, Breast-Conserving Surgery

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You may be a candidate for a lumpectomy if you have been diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer. Deciding to undergo a lumpectomy instead of a mastectomy is a personal decision that should be made with your breast cancer surgeon’s guidance and support. The breast cancer surgeons at Duke cancer centers in Durham, Cary, and Raleigh help you understand your options, answer your questions, and address your concerns.

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Is Lumpectomy for You?

Removes a Lump of Breast Tissue
In a lumpectomy, also known as breast-conserving surgery or partial mastectomy, the surgeon removes a lump of breast tissue that may be breast cancer, as well as a small rim of surrounding normal tissue while saving as much of the healthy breast as possible. It is often done in an outpatient setting. Breast tumors removed during lumpectomy aren’t always breast cancer; sometimes they are noncancerous (benign) or contain precancerous tissue. 

May Include Lymph Node Removal, Breast Reconstruction
Your breast surgeon may remove lymph nodes from under your arm to determine if your breast cancer has spread. This can guide treatment decisions such as whether you will have chemotherapy, radiation, or anti-hormonal therapy, which may prevent breast cancer from recurring. Lumpectomy also may be combined with breast reconstruction

Lumpectomy Is Not for Everyone
There are pros and cons to every breast cancer surgery, and your breast cancer surgeon will discuss your options with you. However, most people with early-stage breast cancer who elect to undergo a lumpectomy and radiation to treat their breast cancer will have the same excellent long-term survival as with mastectomy.

Our Locations

Duke cancer centers are located throughout the Triangle -- close to your home and work.

Lumpectomy Procedures

Central Lumpectomy

A lumpectomy in which the nipple and areola also must be removed, either because the area contains cancerous cells or the tumor is located right behind it.

Excisional Biopsy

Lumpectomy is sometimes performed to diagnose cancer when a needle biopsy cannot be performed. If necessary, an excisional biopsy removes a small amount of tissue that is tested for cancer.

Why Choose Duke

Your Breast Cancer Care Is Our Top Priority
Our doctors work as a team, so you will see several members of your breast cancer team during your appointments. That goes a long way toward reducing unnecessary stress and anxiety. It also ensures you have all the information you need to make decisions about your care. 

Coordination with Your Local Doctor, Second Opinions
If you seek care at Duke and continue your radiation or chemotherapy closer to home, our doctors will coordinate your treatment plan with your doctors. We also provide second opinions and share information with doctors near you.

Dedicated Breast Surgeons 
Our dedicated breast surgeons only see breast patients. Many have undergone advanced fellowship training to treat diseases of the breast, including breast cancer. Breast surgical oncologists who only see people with breast cancer often have the most experience treating your breast cancer. Some of our surgeons are nationally recognized for their innovative approaches to breast cancer surgery They draw on the latest research findings and use advanced surgical techniques to ensure you receive the best treatments available.

Radioactive Seed Implantation for Lumpectomy
Duke is one of the few breast cancer centers in North Carolina where radiologists use stereotactic or ultrasound guidance to implant tiny radioactive seeds prior to your breast-conserving surgery to mark the precise location of your breast cancer. During the lumpectomy, your breast cancer surgeon uses a radiation detection device to locate the seed and removes it along with the lump. In the past, the only option available for marking the tumor’s location was the placement of thin wires in the breast (poked through the skin) a few hours before surgery. Radioactive seed implantation often replaces the need for those wires.

Minimizing Scarring After Lumpectomy
The appearance of your breast after a lumpectomy is often a concern for women, especially after their treatments have ended. Our breast cancer surgeons may use advanced surgical techniques to hide your scar under your breast, along the bra line, or around the edge of the areola. Your breast cancer surgeon may also use breast reconstruction techniques to reshape your breast when a large lump is removed and the breast is distorted. This is often performed at the time of your lumpectomy to minimize the need for additional surgeries.

Best Cancer Hospital in North Carolina

Where you receive your cancer care is important. Duke University Hospital is proud of our team and the exceptional care they provide. They are why our cancer program is nationally ranked, and the highest-ranked program in North Carolina, according to U.S. News & World Report for 2024–2025.

This page was medically reviewed on 05/30/2018 by