Impact of Surgical Margins in Breast Cancer After Preoperative Systemic Chemotherapy on Local Recurrence and Survival

Ann Surg Oncol. 2020 May;27(5):1700-1707. doi: 10.1245/s10434-019-08089-x. Epub 2019 Dec 23.


Background: While "no tumour on ink" is an accepted margin width for R0 resection in primary surgery, it's unclear if it's oncologically safe after neoadjuvant chemotherapy (NAC). Only limited data demonstrate that surgery within new margins in cases of a pathological complete response (pCR) is safe. We therefore investigated the influence of different margins and pCR on local recurrence and survival rates after NAC.

Methods: We retrospectively analysed data of 406 women with invasive breast cancer, treated with NAC and breast-conserving therapy between 1994 and 2014 in two certified Austrian breast health centres. We compared R ≤ 1 mm, R > 1 mm and RX (pCR) for local recurrence-free survival (LRFS), disease-free survival (DFS) and overall survival (OS).

Results: After a median follow-up of 84.3 months, the 5-year LRFS (R ≤ 1 mm: 94.2%, R > 1 mm: 90.6%, RX: 95.0%; p = 0.940), the 5-year DFS (R ≤ 1 mm: 71.9%, R > 1 mm: 74.1%, RX: 87.2%; p = 0.245) and the 5-year OS (R ≤ 1 mm: 85.1%, R > 1 mm: 88.0%, RX: 96.4%; p = 0.236) did not differ significantly between narrow, wide, nor RX resections. Regarding DFS and OS, a negative nodal status reduced the hazard ratio significantly.

Conclusion: There is no significant difference in LRFS, DFS and OS comparing close, wide or unknown margins after pCR. We suggest that resection in new margins after NAC is safe according to "no tumour on ink". Resection of the clipped area in cases of pCR is emphasized.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Austria / epidemiology
  • Breast Neoplasms / mortality
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology
  • Breast Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Chemotherapy, Adjuvant*
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Margins of Excision*
  • Mastectomy, Segmental*
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / diagnosis*
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / mortality
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Preoperative Care
  • Prognosis
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Survival Analysis
  • Young Adult