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New Finding Suggests Safe Surgical Margins When Removing Breast Cancers
Date:10/21/2010

millimeters.

"Our results clearly show a relationship between the width of the free margin and the likelihood of finding residual disease at further surgery," the researchers wrote. "To minimize the risk of residual disease, we would recommend aiming for a free margin from invasive tumor of 2 millimeters."

However, the study authors noted that the findings did not apply to women with a precancerous condition known as ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS). One-third of the patients with DCIS had residual disease even with a free margin up to 5 millimeters. "The equivalent free margin for DCIS remains unknown," they wrote.

Brawley said surgeons may someday embrace 2-millimeter margins around malignant tumors and perform fewer follow-up surgeries as a result. "But it'll be a while before people gravitate to it," he said.

More information

The U.S. National Library of Medicine has more on breast cancer.

-- Randy Dotinga

SOURCE: International Journal of Clinical Practice, Oct. 20, 2010; Otis Brawley, M.D., chief medical officer, American Cancer Society; press release, Oct. 18,


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