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International Journal of Surgical Oncology
Volume 2012, Article ID 180259, 9 pages
Review Article

Evaluation of Resection Margins in Breast Conservation Therapy: The Pathology Perspective—Past, Present, and Future

Department of Pathology, University of Illinois Hospital and Health Sciences System, 840 South Wood Street, M/C 847, Chicago, IL 60612, USA

Received 12 August 2012; Revised 16 October 2012; Accepted 22 October 2012

Academic Editor: Joseph P. Crowe

Copyright © 2012 Rajyasree Emmadi and Elizabeth L. Wiley. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Tumor surgical resection margin status is important for any malignant lesion. When this occurs in conjunction with efforts to preserve or conserve the afflicted organ, these margins become extremely important. With the demonstration of no difference in overall survival between mastectomy versus lumpectomy and radiation for breast carcinoma, there is a definite trend toward smaller resections combined with radiation, constituting “breast-conserving therapy.” Tumor-free margins are therefore key to the success of this treatment protocol. We discuss the various aspects of margin status in this setting, from a pathology perspective, incorporating the past and current practices with a brief glimpse of emerging future techniques.