A Review of Breast cancer surgeries Highlights the Need for Better Guidelines

Posted by: admin on: March 20, 2012

Breast cancer lumpectomy seems to be inadequate at times and unwarranted at times and needs better guidelines says Ms Kathy who has gone through it.


Guest post by Kathy Steligo

As a woman who has had lumpectomy on both breasts, I thank my lucky stars for that simple yet effective operation. But a new study published recently in the Journal of the American Medical Association brings up a worrisome issue: medical guidelines dictate when lumpectomy should be an option, but don’t describe how much tissue beyond the tumor should be removed.

Surgeons remove a segment of tissue around the tumor in an effort to get “clear margins,” without any cancer cells. Without medical guidelines dictating how much is too little and how much is too much, surgeons decide on the amount of tissue to be removed based on their own insight and intuition. This study showed, however, that in some cases, those qualities fall short and the patient pays the price.

Every breast cancer case is different, so it’s understandable that lumpectomies might not be performed exactly the same way for all women. But the study results underscore one fact: presented with the same lumpectomy, surgeons have differing opinions of how much tissue should be removed “to be safe.” Some like to err on the side of caution, removing a wide margin of tissue, while others take a more conservative approach, trying to remove cancerous tissue while preserving the shape and volume of the breast as much as possible. Most importantly, this research shows that some women who need more surgery aren’t getting it, while others are having unneeded surgeries.

It’s not clear whether the findings of this one study would hold up if all lumpectomies were subjected to the same scrutiny, but it is an indication of the need for some level of surgical guidelines regarding lumpectomy. Hopefully this will motivate surgeons and the appropriate health officials to do what is needed—recognize that each patient case is different, but establish guidelines that help surgeons become more effective and ensure that fewer women experience the frustration and anguish of a repeat lumpectomy.

In the meantime, what should women do if they’re facing a lumpectomy? Be your own advocate: ask questions, research your options, and get a second opinion before any surgery. Insurance usually pays for getting a second opinion; it takes just a bit of time and will be well worth the effort

Ref: http://jhupressblog.com/2012/02/21/the-doctor-is-in-why-doctors-need-better-guidelines-for-breast-cancer-surgery/

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