Results from a recent study presented during the 2015 Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology and published in the New England Journal of Medicine show that the removal of more tissue during a partial mastectomy surgery could avoid the need for a second procedure in many patients with breast cancer.
Each year in the United States, about 300,000 women receive a breast cancer diagnosis and the majority undergo breast-conserving surgery with partial mastectomy as a treatment for the disease. About 20% to 40% of patients who undergo this surgery have cancer cells or “positive margins” on the edge of the removed tissue, which may lead to another procedure.
In this study, researchers examined if the removal of additional tissue around the tumor site during the first procedure — named cavity shave margins (CSM) — would reduce the need for a second procedure. A total of 235 breast cancer patients between stage 0 to stage III, were randomized to receive partial mastectomy removing or leaving CSM.
“Despite their best efforts, surgeons could not predict where the cancer was close to the edge,” said in a recent news release the study’s lead author, Dr. Anees Chagpar, associate professor of surgery (oncology) at Yale School of Medicine and director of The Breast Center at Smilow Cancer Hospital at Yale-New Haven. “Taking cavity shave margins cut the positive margin rate in half, without compromising cosmetic outcome or increasing complication rates.”
To examine the impact of this technique all patients were followed for five years. “This randomized controlled trial has the potential to have a huge impact for breast cancer patients,” Chagpar said in the news release. “No one likes going back to the operating room, especially not the patients who face the emotional burden of another surgery.”