Clean Margins and Prognosis

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QUESTION: I just had a lumpectomy and they now say I have two tumors, one of which they didn't get a clean margin on so they're going in again. Does the fact that I have two tell me anything about my chances?

ANSWER: Your doctors seem to be recommending a "re-excision," more surgery in order to get clear around the tumor with clear margins. This is a common procedure and in general has no real impact on your prognosis-your long-term outcome. If there are two entirely separate tumors in your breast, separated by normal breast tissue, your doctors may tell you that there may be a higher risk of cancer recurrence after lumpectomy and radiation compared to mastectomy (in which case your doctors might recommend mastectomy).Before you have the next surgery, make sure you discuss this issue with your doctors. Read more about re-excision.

—Marisa Weiss, M.D.

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