Breast cancer

How to use this guide

The information in this guide will help prepare you for your lumpectomy and sentinel lymph node biopsy surgery. It also has information about what will happen on the day of surgery and your care after surgery.

Your surgeon and Sunnybrook nursing staff will go over this guide with you. We know this may be a stressful time for you and you will be given a lot of information about your medical condition. We hope this guide will help you keep track of what you need to do for your lumpectomy and sentinel node biopsy surgery.

In the paper copy of this guide, there are places to write the dates and times of your appointments.

What is a lumpectomy?

A lumpectomy is surgery that removes only the area of concern within the breast and a small amount of normal breast tissue around it. The rest of the healthy breast tissue is left in place. The amount of tissue taken from the breast depends on the size of the lump or area of concern.

Your lumpectomy surgery will also include other procedures such as the temporary placement of a titanium seed in your breast and a sentinel node biopsy.

» What is a sentinel lymph node biopsy?

Lymph nodes act as filters in the body’s circulatory system and sentinel lymph nodes are the lymph nodes closest to the tumour in the breast. As part of your lumpectomy the surgeon will remove 1 to 3 sentinel lymph nodes in the armpit on the same side as the breast lump.

Why are the sentinel lymph nodes removed?

  • Sometimes cancer cells leave the breast tumour and spread to other parts of the body.
  • Some of these cells will be caught in the lymph nodes in the arm pit.
  • The surgeon needs to take out a few lymph nodes for testing.
  • This information helps the doctors decide what other treatments you will need.

Important reminderImportant reminders

  • Please bring a paper copy of this guide with you to your Pre-anesthesia Clinic appointment and on the day of your surgery.
  • Please bring your Ontario Health Card and your Sunnybrook card on every visit to the hospital.
  • If you do not read or speak English, please bring someone with you who can translate.

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