Fluid Buildup After Lumpectomy

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QUESTION: I had DCIS and had a lumpectomy 8 months ago, and my last radiation treatment was 6 months ago. I still have fluid in the breast. Is this normal?

ANSWER: Following lumpectomy, a space remains in the breast that was previously occupied by breast tissue. It is natural for spaces such as this to fill with fluid as the body responds normally to this missing tissue. The term "seroma" is the name for clear fluid buildup; the word "hematoma" is used to describe a blood collection. Finding fluid in the lumpectomy space is in no way abnormal. In most instances the body will reabsorb the fluid within a year after surgery, and longer periods of time are not rare. On occasion, the fluid formation may be uncomfortable and may even protrude from the breast. In these instances, your surgeon may elect to aspirate some of the fluid. Remember, there is no cause for concern. It is best, however, if you allow your doctor to recheck this area to make sure that you are healing properly.

—Alan Stolier, M.D.

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