Day surgery for breast cancer
This page tells you about day surgery for breast cancer. You can find information about
About day surgery for breast cancer
You may have day surgery for a lumpectomy or mastectomy. You may hear this called the 23 hour breast care pathway. It may include an overnight stay in hospital. The surgery is the same as you would have if you stayed in hospital for longer. Research has found that people having day surgery don’t have any more problems than they do if they stay in hospital for longer.
Day surgery is not right for everyone. Some people need to stay in hospital for longer due to other medical conditions or because they don’t have people at home to support them.
In the days before your operation you have any tests you need and you meet the people who will be caring for you.
After the surgery, you can drink fluids straight away and can have painkillers if you need them. Once you have recovered from your anaesthetic you will be able to go home.
Going home after your operation
It can feel frightening going home so soon after surgery. Before you leave hospital your nurse will give you information about caring for yourself, looking after your drain if you have one, painkillers, and exercises you need to do. Make sure that you have a letter for your GP, contact numbers for staff at the hospital in case you have problems, and dates for your follow up appointments.
You can view and print the quick guides for all the pages in the Treating breast cancer section.
You may have day surgery for breast cancer if you are having a lumpectomy or a mastectomy. You may hear this called the 23 hour breast care pathway. It may include an overnight stay in hospital.
The surgery is the same as you would have if you stayed in hospital for longer. It just means that you get the care you need but stay in hospital for less time. We know from research that most women who choose to have surgery in this way like it. They don’t have any more problems than they do if they had stayed in hospital for longer.
This approach is not right for everyone. Some people need to stay in hospital for longer due to other medical conditions or because they don’t have people around at home to support them
You also need to feel confident that going home the same day is right for you.
In the days before your operation you have all of the tests that you need. You will also meet the key people you need to see, including your anaesthetist and breast care nurse. Then, on the day of your operation, you go into hospital. On the day of the surgery, you can eat until 6 hours before the operation, and drink clear fluids until 2 hours beforehand.
After the surgery, you can drink fluids straight away and you can have painkillers if you need them. Your nurse will tell you when you can start to eat again.
Once you have recovered from your anaesthetic you will be able to go home. Before you leave hospital your nurse will give you information about
- How to care for your wound and drain if you have one
- What to expect as you recover
- Exercises to do and when to do them
- The surgery you have had
- How to wear your temporary breast shape (prosthesis)
They should also give you
- Contact numbers, in case you have any problems
- A letter for your GP
- A referral to district nurses if you need one
- Your follow up appointment date and time
It can feel frightening going home after surgery, whether you have stayed in for a few days or have had day surgery. It helps if you and your family know who to contact, and how to contact them, if you have any problems or are worried about anything. So make sure that you have all this information before you leave the ward.
We have detailed information about breast cancer treatments in this section, with pages about
- Having your breast cancer operation
- After your breast cancer operation, including possible problems
- Breast reconstruction
You can phone the Cancer Research UK nurses on freephone 0808 800 4040. The lines are open from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday. They will be happy to answer any questions that you have.
Our breast cancer organisations page gives details of other people who can provide information about breast cancer and its treatment. Some organisations can put you in touch with a cancer support group.
If you want to find people to share experiences with online, you could use Cancer Chat, our online forum.
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