Anesthesia for Breast Cancer Surgery

This information is useful for adults
Why Yale Medicine?
  • Our anesthesiologists meet with you before your surgery to discuss your anesthesia options.
  • We constantly monitor post-operatively to make sure you are pain-free and comfortable.
  • Our team works with you to determine the best level of sedation for your needs.

Many women who are diagnosed with breast cancer have surgery as part of their treatment. At Yale Medicine, doctors perform a wide range of surgeries to treat breast cancer, including minimally invasive lumpectomies, complex bilateral mastectomies and breast reconstruction. 

Our world-class team of anesthesiologists works closely with breast surgeons to make sure that you stay safe and comfortable during and after breast surgery. 

We offer personalized anesthesia options for each patient, says Viji Kurup, MD, a Yale Medicine anesthesiologist and associate professor of anesthesiology at Yale School of Medicine.

"Anesthesia varies widely depending on the type of surgery,” says Dr. Kurup. Some patients get local anesthesia at the site of the incision and just enough sedation to be comfortable and pain-free during surgery. Others receive general anesthesia for more complex surgeries.

During a lumpectomy, most of the breast tumor is removed, along with some tissue around it, leaving the rest of the breast intact. Most patients can get by with light sedation (given through an intravenous, or I.V., line in the arm or hand) and local anesthetic to numb the breast. But depending on the extent of the surgery and your comfort level, you may prefer heavier sedation or general anesthesia.

For mastectomy (removal of one or both breasts), lymph node dissection (removal of lymph nodes under your arm) and breast reconstruction, general anesthesia is required. It is administered through an I.V. line and a breathing tube and the anesthesiologist continuously monitors vital signs.

Clinical Trials

New treatments for many conditions are tested in clinical trials, which ultimately bring lifesaving new drugs and devices to the patients who need them most. By participating in a clinical trial, you may get access to the most advanced treatments for your condition, and help determine their benefits for future patients.