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Breast Conservation Therapy
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:
- Breast conservation therapy, also called BCT or lumpectomy, is a breast conserving surgery (BCS) which may be followed by radiation therapy. BCT may be done to treat breast cancer (tumor) while sparing and leaving much of the breast intact. With BCT, only the part of the breast with cancer and some area around it are removed. Radiation therapy may be given at a later date to kill cancer cells that were not removed with surgery. Sometimes, chemotherapy may be used weeks before BCS to shrink a large tumor. BCT helps you cope better with breast cancer without the loss of a breast.
- BCT is usually done in patients with early-stage breast cancer. In this stage, the tumor is still small and has not spread to other parts of the body. Women with more than one tumor present in different areas of the breast cannot have BCT. You also cannot have BCT if you had received radiation on the same breast or have certain medical conditions. These medical conditions may include poor blood flow or a big tumor in relation to the breast size. Surgery during pregnancy may be done during the later months with the radiation therapy given after delivery. You and your caregiver will decide which breast cancer treatment is right for you.
- Keep a current list of your medicines: Include the amounts, and when, how, and why you take them. Take the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency. Throw away old medicine lists. Use vitamins, herbs, or food supplements only as directed.
- Take your medicine as directed: Call your primary healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not working as expected. Tell him about any medicine allergies, and if you want to quit taking or change your medicine.
- Antibiotics: This medicine is given to fight or prevent an infection caused by bacteria. Always take your antibiotics exactly as ordered by your primary healthcare provider. Do not stop taking your medicine unless directed by your primary healthcare provider. Never save antibiotics or take leftover antibiotics that were given to you for another illness.
- Pain medicine: You may need medicine to take away or decrease pain.
- Learn how to take your medicine. Ask what medicine and how much you should take. Be sure you know how, when, and how often to take it.
- Do not wait until the pain is severe before you take your medicine. Tell caregivers if your pain does not decrease.
- Pain medicine can make you dizzy or sleepy. Prevent falls by calling someone when you get out of bed or if you need help.
Ask for information about where and when to go for follow-up visits:
For continuing care, treatments, or home services, ask for more information.Ask your caregiver when you should return to have your wound checked, drain taken out, or stitches removed. Ask your caregiver if you need to have a radiation therapy and when you need to return for the treatment.
Bathing with stitches:
Follow your primary healthcare provider's instructions on when you can bathe. Gently wash the part of your body that has the stitches. Do not rub on the stitches to dry your skin. Pat the area gently with a towel. When the area is dry, put on a clean, new bandage as directed.
Do a monthly breast exam on your other breast. If you are having monthly periods, do it 2 or 3 days after your period ends. If you have gone through menopause (change of life), check your breast on the same day each month. You may also need to have a mammogram taken regularly. Ask your caregiver for more information about how to do a breast exam and when to have a mammogram.
Your breasts may not look the same after surgery, especially if a large area of your breast was removed. A prosthesis (artificial breast) that can be worn in the bra may help add fullness and balance to your breasts. Breast prosthesis may be made of foam or polyester fiber. Ask your caregiver for more information about breast prosthesis.
You may need to have radiation therapy after you have healed from your surgery. This is usually done 2 to 4 weeks after surgery. Radiation therapy is a treatment using x-rays or gamma rays. Radiation may help kill cancer cells that were left and keep these cancer cells from spreading.
CONTACT A CAREGIVER IF:
- You have a fever.
- You have discharge or pain in the area where the drain was inserted.
- You have nausea (upset stomach) or vomiting (throwing up).
- Your bandage becomes soaked with blood.
- Your skin is itchy, swollen, or has a rash.
- You have questions or concerns about your surgery, illness, or medicine.
SEEK CARE IMMEDIATELY IF:
- You feel something is bulging out into your chest and not going back in.
- You have pain in your chest or armpit that does not go away even after taking pain medicines.
- You have trouble breathing all of a sudden.
- Your incision has blood, pus, or a foul-smelling odor.
- Your shoulder, arm, or fingers feel numb, tingly, cool to touch, or look blue or pale.
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.