New Breast Cancer Surgical Guideline Offers Cost- and Life-Improving Recommendations

In In The News by Barbara Jacoby

LLH network pressThe Society of Surgical Oncology (SSO) is proud to announce the release of a comprehensive consensus guideline for physicians treating breast cancer that will reduce healthcare costs and improve the course of treatment. Developed in conjunction with the American Society of Radiation Oncology (ASTRO), it outlines an evidence-based surgical treatment path that will save patients from unnecessary surgery.

“A significant portion of breast cancer surgeries in the United States are performed by our surgical oncologists, and the definition of an adequate margin has been a major controversy. Therefore, it was only natural that we decided to create a definitive guideline that helps to minimize unnecessary surgery while maintaining the excellent outcomes seen with lumpectomy and radiation therapy,” said Monica Morrow, M.D., SSO immediate past president and co-chair of the consensus panel. Dr. Morrow is a breast cancer surgeon and Chief of Breast Surgery at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in Manhattan. “We are proud to provide this pivotal document to the oncology community, which will improve the lives and treatment of patients touched by this disease.”

Roughly 25 percent of breast cancer patients return to the operating room following lumpectomies to obtain more normal tissue around the cancer (known as a margin).  In about half of these cases, the tumor has been removed and the margin is free of cancer cells, but it has been thought that a larger amount of normal breast tissue might reduce the risk of cancer recurrence.

A comprehensive review of the available scientific evidence was performed by an expert methodologist.  Leaders in surgical oncology, radiation oncology, medical oncology, pathology and patient advocacy then met to review the findings and develop consensus. The review of the evidence by SSO, ASTRO and contributing experts did not support the routine removal of larger amounts of healthy breast tissue beyond having no cancerous cells touching the edge of the lumpectomy specimen. The panel found this was true regardless of patient age as well as for women with the more aggressive, triple negative cancer types. It is the hope of all parties involved that this evidence-based guideline consensus will save many patients from unnecessary surgery and give patients the confidence to select a lumpectomy in lieu of a mastectomy where medically viable.

“Our hope is that this guideline will ultimately lead to significant reductions in the high re-excision rate for women with early-stage breast cancer undergoing breast conserving surgery.  Based on the consensus panel’s extensive review of the literature, the vast majority of re-excisions are unnecessary because disease control in the breast is excellent for women with early-stage disease when radiation and hormonal therapy and/or chemotherapy are added to a woman’s treatment plan,” said Meena S. Moran, MD, Associate Professor of Therapeutic Radiology at Yale School of Medicine and Yale Cancer Center and co-chair of the Margin Consensus Panel.

The guideline was produced with a grant from Susan G. Komen and is endorsed by the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) and the American Society of Breast Surgeons (ASBS). Download it now on SSO’s website, Supporting rationale and in-depth documentation are available in SSO’s “Annals of Surgical Oncology,” the leading publication for surgeons treating patients with cancer. SSO is providing complimentary access to the journal article in order to increase the impact of this important research.

About the Society of Surgical Oncology
Founded in 1940 as the James Ewing Society, the Society of Surgical Oncology® is the premier organization for surgeons and health care providers dedicated to advancing and promoting the science and treatment of cancer worldwide. The 2,800-member Society’s focus on all solid-tumor disease sites is reflected in its Annual Cancer Symposium, monthly scientific journal (“Annals of Surgical Oncology”), educational initiatives, and committee structure.

ASTRO is the premier radiation oncology society in the world, with more than 10,000 members who are physicians, nurses, biologists, physicists, radiation therapists, dosimetrists and other health care professionals that specialize in treating patients with radiation therapies. As the leading organization in radiation oncology, the Society is dedicated to improving patient care through professional education and training, support for clinical practice and health policy standards, advancement of science and research, and advocacy. To learn more about ASTRO, visit