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Ann Surg Oncol. 1996 Mar;3(2):169-75.

Clinicopathologic factors and patient perceptions associated with surgical breast-conserving treatment.

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Department of Surgery, School of Medicine, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, USA.



Clinical studies have shown equivalent survival rates between breast-conserving surgery (BCS) and mastectomy in early breast cancer; however, rates for BCS remain low. The purpose of this study was to determine (a) the prevalence of BCS in a regional medical center, (b) clinicopathologic factors associated with BCS, and (c) patient perceptions of the treatment decision-making process.


We retrospectively reviewed 251 consecutive breast cancer cases during January 1990-December 1991; 77 patients were ineligible for BCS because of unfavorable pathology. We then interviewed 118 of the 160 women available for interview.


BCS was performed in 31 of the eligible patients (18%). Multivariate analysis revealed that tumor size < 10 mm (p = 0.03) was the only significant predictive variable for BCS. Patient interviews revealed that 93% said their surgeon was the primary source of information regarding treatment options. Among 69% of the women whose surgeons reportedly recommended a particular option, 89% recommended mastectomy with 93% compliance, and 11% recommended BCS with 89% compliance. The BCS group more often obtained a second opinion (p = 0.04) and 60% said they made the decision themselves compared with only 37% of the mastectomy group (p = 0.05).


Limiting BCS to women whose tumor size is < 10 mm is too restrictive; this excludes a large number of women who are clinically eligible for BCS. The surgical decision-making process for early-stage breast cancer is very much surgeon-driven, with a high degree of patient compliance.

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