As little time ago as 1991 the NIH Consensus conference could not agree on the need for negative margins . Today, negative margin status has become a pre-requisite for BCT recognizing that positive margins impact negatively on local recurrence rates. The science of margin evaluation is fast becoming recognized to play a key role in providing patients with the opportunity for breast conservation therapy as well as the best possible cosmetic result. Preoperative factors that predict a greater likelihood of failure to obtain margins such as larger tumor size and positive lymph nodes are fixed and can only be dealt with by taking larger biopsies. RODEO-MRI can preoperatively predict probabiity of success or failure and can actual better define tumor dimensions and extent and help plan excisions. Use of intraoperative US may be a future tool used to facilitate the excision of non-palpable and possibly palpable tumors. Intraoperative pathological assessment should not be performed by froze section but consideration given to cytological assessment so as to allow feedback to the surgeon intraoperatively as to which margin needs more attention. Finally, using all the above methods of obtaining negative margins, the surgeon may have the ability to impact the outcome of breast cancer surgery and recurrence.
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