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What can I expect in the long term after breast cancer surgery?

There are a lot of different surgery options to treat breast cancer depending on the stage of the cancer, size of the tumor and other diagnostic and prognostic factors. In general, almost any surgery has the potential for long-term swelling, or what’s called lymphedema, of the affected arm. If a woman has had breast conservation surgery such as a lumpectomy, she may require radiation afterwards, which could result in a burn caused by delayed radiation dermatitis. If a woman decides she wants mastectomy and reconstruction, the reconstruction site could fail after radiation and become infected. However, most women do well following breast cancer surgery if they follow the instructions given to them by their surgeon.

We also recommend women go for at least a rehab evaluation and work with a physical therapist or occupational therapist to make sure they get their range of motion back.

Breast cancer treatment doesn't end with surgery. In this video, Dr. Jesse Dirksen discusses the appointments and other follow-up that will come next.

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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.