Visitors must: be asymptomatic, fully vaccinated & wear a mask at all times »

Breast cancer
PAGE
MENU

How to use this guide

Read through this online guide using the navigation links at the bottom of each page.

Or, download a PDF below:

These resources are also available in more languages:

The information in this guide will help prepare you for your lumpectomy. This guide also contains information for patients who are having axillary lymph node dissection surgery or a sentinel lymph node biopsy. 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 surgery.

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

Your medical records are accessible online through MyChart, a service available to Sunnybrook patients. In order to use MyChart you will need a password, which can be picked up at the Medical Records Desk on the second floor of the Odette Cancer Centre (Room T2-212). You can also get a password by completing the form on this webpage. The website address for MyChart is mychart.ca.

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 localizing seed in your breast and a sentinel node biopsy.

» What is an axillary lymph node dissection?

Lymph nodes act as filters in the body’s circulatory system. 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 armpit.

  • The surgeon will remove all of the lymph nodes from the armpit area. This surgery is called an axillary lymph node dissection.
  • If an axillary dissection is being done, then you have had a biopsy (usually in the radiology department) to show that the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes.
  • After the surgeon removes the lymph nodes, they will be sent to a lab for testing. This information helps determine what other treatments you will need.

» 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.
  • 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 assessment 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.
 

Next »