Repeat Breast Surgeries an Unnecessary Burden on Patients, Survey Finds

A national survey published in JAMA Surgery identified too many repeat surgeries in women with breast cancer.

A large national review shows that about a quarter of women who opt for lumpectomy to preserve their breasts wind up having further surgery to reduce risk of the cancer returning.

And the reasons aren’t necessarily medical: repeat surgery rates are driven by factors such as demography and differences of opinion about how much cancer-free tissue make up an adequate surgical margin. The result is that some patients may needlessly have a second surgery.

“Past studies were too small and too regional to know the true national statistics,” says lead author Dr Lee Wilke, who directs the UW Health Breast Center at the UW Carbone Cancer Center. “Now we have a baseline, and while it declined slightly during the study period (from 25.4 to 23.7 percent) it is still too high. We’ll never get to zero but 10 percent is a reasonable goal.”

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