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Breast cancer return reduced by removing healthy tissue

19th October 2010

Researchers have found that removing healthy cells from around tumours could help to prevent the recurrence of breast cancer.

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Doctors working at the Good Hope Hospital in Sutton Coldfield in Birmingham say surgery which removed 2mm or more of the healthy cells around the tumours was found to lessen the danger of cancer returning by over 90%.

The study looked at 303 women and discovered a recurrence risk of 2.4% in women who had a minimum of 2mm of healthy cells removed around the tumour, compared to 35% risk in women who had 1mm of tissue taken out.

Lead author Dr Stephen Ward, from the hospital's department of breast surgery said: "Patients undergoing breast conserving surgery are more likely to have recurrent cancer and the amount of tissue removed around the tumour, known as the free margin, remains controversial."

He explained that a poll of 200 surgeons in the UK which came out in 2007, showed that there were considerable differences in how much tissue surgeons thought they needed to remove.

The survey showed that nearly a quarter (24%) thought 1mm was enough, while 65% thought 2mm or over was acceptable.

"This study highlighted differences in practice across different units and the need for evidence-based guidelines," he added.

 

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