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New Guidelines Set Safe Surgery Margins for Some Breast Cancers

2 millimeters is enough to guard against recurrences while reducing need for additional surgeries

FRIDAY, Aug. 12, 2016 (HealthDay News) -- New surgery guidelines for certain breast cancer patients could reduce both unnecessary surgeries and recurrence rates, three U.S. cancer groups say.

The guideline is for treatment of women with ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) who undergo breast-conserving surgery with whole breast radiation. DCIS is an early stage cancer.

"The use of a 2-millimeter margin as the standard for an adequate margin in DCIS treated with whole breast radiation therapy is associated with low rates of recurrence of cancer in the breast and has the potential to decrease re-excision rates, improve cosmetic outcome and decrease health care costs," according to the guideline from the Society of Surgical Oncology, the American Society for Radiation Oncology and the American Society of Clinical Oncology.

"Margins more widely clear than 2 millimeters do not further reduce the rates of recurrence of cancer in the breast and their routine use is not supported by evidence," the guidelines stated.

The guidelines are published in the three groups' journals, the Annals of Surgical Oncology, Practical Radiation Oncology and the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

The guideline writing panel reviewed current evidence, including 30 studies with nearly 7,900 patients.

"With this guideline, it is our two-pronged goal to help physicians improve the quality of care they provide to women undergoing surgery for DCIS, and ultimately improve outcomes for those patients. We hope the guideline also translates into peace of mind for women who will know that future surgeries may not be needed," panel member Dr. Mariana Chavez-MacGregor, from the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, said in a news release from the three groups.

More information

The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more on breast cancer treatment.

SOURCE: Society of Surgical Oncology, the American Society for Radiation Oncology, American Society of Clinical Oncology, news release, Aug. 15, 2016

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