An Assessment of Margins after Lumpectomy in Breast Cancer Management

Am Surg. 2016 Feb;82(2):156-60.


We performed this study to evaluate our indications for margin re-excision (MRE) in the management of cancer patients opting for breast conservation therapy (BCT). We identified patients choosing breast conservation therapy from January 2012 to May 2014. Margins were considered negative if >2 mm, close if <2 mm, and positive if ink was detected abutting tumor. Patients with close and positive margins underwent MRE. We identified 247 patients of which 190 had negative margins and did not require MRE, 46 patients had a close margin, and 11 had a positive margin, leading to an MRE rate of 23 per cent (57 of 247). The following variables were evaluated: tumor size, stage, estrogen receptor, progesterone receptor, HER2/neu receptor, and node status. None predicted the presence of tumor in the MRE specimen (P > 0.05). Patients with close margins had a 6.5 per cent (3 of 46), and patients with positive margins had a 36.4 per cent (4 of 11) incidence of tumor in the MRE specimens; this difference was statistically significant (P = 0.02). The low rate of finding tumor in MRE specimens of patients with close margins after lumpectomy for breast carcinoma argues for limiting MRE to patients with positive margins (ink on tumor) only. We have adopted this approach in our institution.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Breast / pathology*
  • Breast / surgery
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Breast Neoplasms / surgery
  • Carcinoma, Ductal, Breast / pathology*
  • Carcinoma, Ductal, Breast / surgery
  • Carcinoma, Intraductal, Noninfiltrating / pathology*
  • Carcinoma, Intraductal, Noninfiltrating / surgery
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mastectomy, Segmental*
  • Reoperation
  • Retrospective Studies