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Returning to work after mastectomy

Last reviewed dd mmm yyyy. Last edited dd mmm yyyy

Authoring team



Recommended return to non-manual work

Recommended return to manual work

Breast benign lumpectomy

1-2 days

2 weeks

Breast cancer wide local excision and sentinel node biopsy *

1-2 weeks

2-3 weeks

Breast cancer wide local excision or mastectomy and axillary clearance *

4-6 weeks

8-12 weeks

* Assuming no adjuvant therapy which can substantially delay recovery. Psychological impact of diagnosis can also have an impact on the motivation to return to work.


  • the information applies to general fitness to work for people below 60 years of age without other significant disability. This information is only a guide to doctors, who will need to consider the individual clinical circumstances when advising patients
  • multiple morbidities are likely to prolong recovery


  • Samuel AM, Wellwood JMcK. Fitness for work after surgery. In Palmer KT, Cox RAF and Brown I. (Eds) Fitness for Work 4th edn. Oxford University Press, Oxford 2007 pp 467-486.
  • (accessed 3/9/2013)

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