Imaging of Breast Cancer–Related Changes After Surgical Therapy

Authors: Colleen H. Neal1, Zeynep N. Yilmaz1, Mitra Noroozian1, Katherine A. Klein1, Baskaran Sundaram2, Ella A. Kazerooni2 and Jadranka Stojanovska2


The purpose of this article is to discuss the surgical treatment of breast cancer and its resultant thoracic CT and multimodality imaging manifestations.


Many breast cancer patients undergo cross-sectional imaging at some point during or after treatment. Thoracic CT is an important modality performed for staging and surveillance. Thoracic CT examinations often show findings related to patients' surgical or adjuvant treatment. The postsurgical changes visible on thoracic CT may include those related to lumpectomy, mastectomy, breast reconstruction, and axillary surgery. Postsurgical complications may also be seen, including fluid collections, infection, fat necrosis, and lymphedema. Recognition and appropriate interpretation of the posttherapeutic spectrum of findings are important to avoid unnecessary diagnostic imaging and minimize patient anxiety.