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How safe is breast-conserving surgery?

Dr. Amanda J. Morehouse, MD
Critical Care Surgeon

Breast-conserving surgery is equally as safe as a mastectomy in terms of preventing the spread of the cancer outside of the breast. In terms of some types of breast cancer, there may be a slightly higher risk of a cancer returning in the breast or a new cancer developing in the breast. This makes sense, because the breast has been saved, so there is something left for cancer to develop in. The surgery itself is actually safer than a mastectomy because it's a smaller surgery, so there is less risk for complications.

Dr. Deanna J. Attai, MD
Surgeon

Breast-conserving surgery, also known as lumpectomy, is very safe. Studies comparing lumpectomy with radiation to mastectomy (complete breast removal) show equal survival with longer than 30 years of follow up. We now have a clear understanding that more aggressive surgery for breast cancer does not always lead to better outcomes.

Dr. Cary Hsu, MD
Surgeon

Studies show that the chances of surviving breast cancer after a lumpectomy or a mastectomy are the same. So it is perfectly safe to have a breast-conserving surgery rather than a complete mastectomy. However, if you have breast-conserving surgery, you must also have radiation therapy in order to have the same survival rate as with mastectomy.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.