Send to

Choose Destination
Am J Surg. 2000 Feb;179(2):81-5.

Lumpectomy margins, reexcision, and local recurrence of breast cancer.

Author information

Department of Surgery, Mount Sinai Medical Center, New York, New York, USA.



The diagnosis of breast cancer is often made by excisional biopsy without margin assessment for mammographic findings or palpable masses. Many patients treated with breast conservation undergo reexcision to obtain clear margins although the relationship between clear margins and local recurrence remains controversial.


Patients undergoing breast conservation and adjuvant radiation therapy with complete follow-up over 5 years were studied. Factors associated with obtaining clear histopathologic margins and undergoing reexcision to obtain clear margins were studied in relation to the risk of local recurrence.


Clear biopsy margins were associated with diagnosis by fine-needle aspiration cytology (fine-needle aspiration 42%, spot localization 11%, excisional biopsy 10%; P <0.001). Reexcision was significantly related to diagnostic method (spot localization 63%, excisional biopsy 36%, fine-needle aspiration 10%; P <0.001), first margin status (clear 0%, close 11%, positive 46%, unknown 48%; P <0.001), patient age (54 years for reexcised patients and 58 for non-reexcised patients; P <0.001), and tumor size (mean tumor size 1. 4 cm for reexcised patients and 1.7 cm for non-reexcised patients; P = 0.003). Patients undergoing reexcision were significantly more likely to be diagnosed by spot localization, have nonnegative excisional biopsy margins, be younger, and have smaller tumors than patients not undergoing reexcision. Local recurrence was not significantly related to margin status (8% with clear margins, 7% with positive margins, 19% with close margins, and 11% with unknown margins) or reexcision (10% local recurrence rate for patients with negative final margins after reexcision and 12% with positive, close or unknown first margin without reexcision). Estrogen receptor status was the only variable related to local recurrence in Cox proportional hazards model (P = 0.009). Estrogen receptor negative patients with nonnegative margins experienced a 20% rate of local recurrence compared with 10% for estrogen receptor negative patients with negative margins and 7% for estrogen receptor positive patients regardless of margin status (P = 0.021).


Clear excision margins are facilitated by preoperative diagnosis by fine-needle cytology. For patients with nonnegative margins, reexcision was more commonly performed in young patients with small tumors diagnosed by spot localization biopsy. The relationship of local recurrence to margins and reexcision was not statistically significant. Estrogen receptor negative tumors with nonnegative margins had a significantly higher rate of local recurrence than estrogen receptor negative tumors with clear margins and estrogen receptor positive tumors regardless of margin status.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science
Loading ...
Support Center