Surgical Updates from the 32nd Annual Miami Breast Cancer Conference

Debu Tripathy, CURE's editor-in-chief and chair of the breast medical oncology department at MD Anderson Cancer Center, reports on surgical research updates announced at the Miami Breast Cancer Conference held in late February.

Emerging, and sometimes controversial, approaches to surgery and radiation treatment for breast cancer was discussed.

Six weeks of radiation therapy after lumpectomy is a traditional strategy of breast cancer treatment. A new approach that has been tested over the past 10 years that reduces the duration of radiation, called hypofractioned radiation, may be as effective and more convenient for patients. Current research is looking into who would be a prime candidate for this new form of radiation.

Another area of radiation is for higher-risk cancers and extending the area of radiation that would include the regional lymph nodes under the arms, near the collarbone and the chest bone.

A new guideline for surgical margins during breast cancer surgery was also discussed during the conference. Surgeons want to remove all cancer so that the tissue removed has "clear margins."

"The big question has been how close should the margin be for us to recommend whether the surgeon should go back in and take more tissue," he says, or other strategies.
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