RI
Dr. Radha IyengarBreast Surgery

Margins

2 min read
A margin is the amount of normal appearing tissue that is taken around a cancer or area of concern. A surgical margin refers to the amount of normal tissue that is grossly seen or felt by the surgeon at the time of surgery.
A pathologic margin is  considered the true margin and is the distance from the area of concern to the edge of the tissue that was removed. This is determined by what the pathologist sees under the microscope several days after the surgery.
Breast cancers are often bigger microscopically than they are on imaging or by feel so surgeons typically take a 1 cm margin around the edges of the cancer when they are doing surgery.  However, this is not a guarantee that the margins are clear microscopically.
A pathological 2mm margin is considered to be a clear margin by most surgeons.  If a margin is less than this, the surgeon will discuss whether or not further surgery is needed to clear the margin.  Sometimes, based on the type of radiation you are recommended to have,  further surgery is not needed.
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As always, discuss  recommendations thoroughly with your doctor so you understand and feel comfortable with the treatment plan.