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Guideline Changes for Breast Cancer Surgery

According to the medical journal JAMA Oncology, researchers have developed new guidelines for women undergoing breast cancer removal surgery. The medical journal also commented on the history of breast cancer surgery and why this new guideline is being recommended to oncologists who specialize in breast cancer procedures.

According to the report, for more than a decade, women with early stage and/or non-invasive breast cancer would often undergo far more extensive procedures to remove their cancer, such as a bi-lateral mastectomy, instead of undergoing a lumpectomy. These extensive procedures were often recommended over less-invasive surgeries because doctors could not agree on a safe, cancer-free margin around tumors.

In fact, before the recommendations were made public back in 2014, doctors would suggest the surgery they thought would be most effective based on their educational backgrounds and training. Which means that if you went to 3-4 different doctors for your breast cancer surgery, you may have been recommended different procedures depending on that doctor’s personal treatment philosophy.

While that may sound alarming, it’s not. That’s just the nature of the business. It would be like going to contractor A and contractor B for quotes on a home improvement project and getting two different prices. Nevertheless, some doctors feel it is necessary to remove the tumor and 2 millimeters or more of normal tissue beyond the edge of the cancer to ensure an optimal outcome while others feel a clear margin could be even smaller than 1 millimeter.

Now, JAMA Oncology is recommending doctors focus on less invasive procedures for breast cancer because a “minimal negative margin was just as good as a bigger margin at reducing the risk of cancer coming back in that breast.” This new guideline has been adopted quickly, resulting in fewer repeat surgeries for further removal of tumors and possibly cancerous tissue.

To learn more about the new guidelines and how they impact women undergoing breast cancer surgery, please visit NPR News for the full story:

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The advice and information contained in this article are for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace or counter a physician’s advice or judgment. Please always consult your physician before taking any advice learned here or in any other educational medical material.