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Wide Local Excision

(Breast conservation surgery)

The aim of surgery is to remove a cancer with a wide enough margin to ensure complete removal. The shape and appearance of the breast can be maintained if the lump is small relative to the size of the breast. The adequacy of the excision is assessed in the laboratory. In some occasions the excision is not complete and further surgery will be needed.

Wide local excision is usually combined with axillary surgery and followed by radiotherapy to the breast.

Most patients are admitted to hospital on the day of surgery but some patients are admitted the day before to optimise their medical condition. Before surgery the site of the breast lump is marked. The operation is performed under general anaesthetic and may take one to one and a half hours.

While some patients can go home on the day of surgery the majority spend a night in hospital.

Before being discharged home the patients is examined and advised on the management of dressings and drains. She is also given a discharge letter for her family doctor and given appointments for followup care.

Patients are advised to wear a bra day and night for two weeks after surgery, preferably a well-fitting elastic sports bra. The physiotherapist also advises the patient on how to mobilize the arm after axillary surgery.

Wide local excision is not usually a painful operation and most patients only require a few simple pain killers and recover within a few days.

It is usually performed as a bilateral operation (both breasts) so that the breasts are symmetrical. In certain situations a mammaplasty on just the affected breast may be possible. Recovery and aftercare following this operation is the same as for a breast reduction or breast lift. Most women stay one or two nights in hospital


Some patients are affected by anesthetic problems, the commonest of which are nausea and vomiting but these don’t usually last long.
Sometimes there is bleeding or infection in the wound which may require treatment.



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