By Dr. Kathleen Ruddy

To ensure your cancer treatment is a success, understand the importance of wire localization in the lumpectomy procedure. This step in the treatment enables your specialists to target the cancer and provide you with the greatest chance to return to a robust life.

What is the importance of wire localization during a lumpectomy?

Wire localization is a method to designate the location of a breast abnormality. With this step, you are provided with the highest accuracy during a lumpectomy or breast biopsy. You may use a gel to numb your breast tissue prior to the treatment.

What happens prior to the wire localization associated with a lumpectomy?

Before the wire localization occurs, you may participate in a series of ultrasound images or mammograms to determine the exact location of the abnormality in your breast. You undress the breast in question and position yourself for an ultrasound or mammogram. Consider that special devices like a paddle-shaped compression tool may be employed.


While wire localization is a common practice, many patients report that having a wire sticking up through the skin for the hours prior to the surgery is extremely uncomfortable. As an alternative, some hospitals, such as Memorial Sloan-Kettering Hospital in New York City, offer radioactive seed localization.

What measures are taken to reduce the risk of side effects during the wire localization?

Though your breast is numbed before the treatment, you may experience some side effects associated with the procedure. During the localization, you may feel a slight stinging sensation from the anesthetic needle. You may experience pressure or a pulling sensation during the positioning of the wire.

How long does the wire localization process take place in relation to a lumpectomy treatment?

Your wire localization treatment may last for approximately 60 minutes and traditionally occurs two hours prior to your lumpectomy. Once the wire has been positioned correctly, you are ready for the next treatment. During your surgery, your surgeon removes the wire.

Consult your physician for any questions regarding the wire localization during a lumpectomy. With this important step, you ensure a successful surgery and greater likelihood for returning to a life rich in zest.


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