Surgery often plays a vital role in cancer diagnosis and treatment. The surgeons at Emerson Hospital have extensive experience treating breast cancer. From biopsies to cancer surgery to plastic and reconstructive surgery, Emerson’s surgeons are committed to performing the most minimally-invasive procedures possible.



Breast Biopsy

A biopsy is a procedure used to remove part of the tumor to obtain a sample for testing. A biopsy is the most important procedure in diagnosing cancer. Most biopsies are performed using ultrasound guidance, but stereotactic and MRI guidance can also be used.

Wire Localization/Faxitron Clip

Breast localization is done prior to your surgery and is often necessary to help guide your surgeon. Due to imaging and screening advancements, breast cancer is often caught at earlier stages. However, early detection means that the lesions are typically smaller and therefore harder to locate during surgery.
The procedure is completed by a radiologist. During the localization procedure, a very thin wire or small clip is implanted within the breast under ultrasound or mammogram guidance. The wire or clip will later guide your surgeon to the abnormality during your surgery. Both techniques (wire or clip) help facilitate accurate surgical excision to achieve the best cosmetic result. Once the tumor has been removed, your surgeon will confirm the wire or clip has been removed along with the tissue.


A lumpectomy is a surgery to remove a mass in your breast. A rim of healthy breast tissue or lymph nodes surrounding the mass may also be removed if necessary. A lumpectomy is sometimes referred to as a partial mastectomy or breast-conserving surgery.


A device called a BioZorb is often implanted into the breast during a lumpectomy. BioZorb is a 3-dimensional marker that was developed to help clearly identify the surgical area where tissue was removed from the breast. It helps doctors monitor the area over time, and if necessary, can be useful if additional medical procedures are warranted. The BioZorb also provides oncoplastic benefit by supporting remaining tissue as it heals, limits scarring, and reduces the likelihood of developing “divots”, therefore improving the overall cosmetic appearance.
The BioZorb will slowly dissolve over the course of several years. Small marker clips of the BioZorb remain permanently to identify the area within the breast that your doctor wants to watch closely. BioZorb has been shown to be very helpful for long-term follow-up of patients and those with breast cancer who may need additional treatments such as radiation therapy. Clinical experience has shown that BioZorb is not painful and well tolerated by patients.


A mastectomy is surgery to remove the breast. Tissue, lymph nodes, or muscle near the breast may also be removed. A mastectomy is done to treat breast cancer and prevent cancer from spreading. A mastectomy can also be done to prevent breast cancer. This may be a choice if you are at high risk for breast cancer. The type of mastectomy you need may depend on the size of the tumor or possibly on if your cancer has spread.

Reconstructive Surgery

If you have a mastectomy, you may want to think about having your breast rebuilt. This is called breast reconstruction. It is not done to treat cancer, but can be done in combination with your mastectomy to make a breast shape that looks a lot like your natural breast.
There are two main techniques for reconstructing your breast:
  • Implant reconstruction: Inserting an implant that's filled with salt water (saline), silicone gel, or a combination of the two.
  • Autologous or "flap" reconstruction: Using tissue transplanted from another part of your body (such as your belly, thigh, or back). Autologous reconstruction also may include an implant.
You also can choose whether or not to reconstruct your nipple. In some cases, nipple-sparing mastectomy is possible, which means that your own nipple and the surrounding breast skin are preserved.
If you plan to have a mastectomy and are thinking about having reconstruction, you should talk to a plastic surgeon before the mastectomy is done. Your breast can be rebuilt at the same time as the mastectomy or at a later date.

Port Placement

An implanted venous access device, also known as a “port”, is used to give medications like chemotherapy and immunotherapy. It can also be used to draw blood. The port is a small container that is placed under your skin, usually in your upper chest just below the collar bone. The port is attached to a catheter that enters the superior vena cava (large vein entering your heart).