Background: Occult breast carcinoma is occasionally found in reduction mammaplasty specimens. Historically, these patients were treated with mastectomy because the exact location of the tumor was unknown. Currently, breast conservation is the treatment of choice in 50 to 85 percent of breast cancers. The authors present a technique of routine specimen marking that allows localization of the tumor and preservation of the choice of lumpectomy. Methods: This is a retrospective review of 866 patients who underwent reduction mammaplasty performed by a single surgeon between 1990 and 2009. Data were collected for patients who had occult cancer found in their specimens, including age, cancer risk factors, abnormality, nodal status, selected treatment, and survival status. Specimens were marked and oriented and then sent in separate bags to the pathologist. Results: There were 10 cases of occult carcinoma among the 866 women (1.15 percent) who underwent reduction mammaplasty. Six cancers were found in patients undergoing reduction for symptomatic macromastia [n = 629 (0.95 percent)]. Four new cancers were found in the group of patients with a personal history of cancer [n = 237 (1.69 percent)]. All 10 patients had normal preoperative mammograms. Location, size, and margin status were easily identified and patients were offered the choice of lumpectomy or mastectomy. Conclusions: This article demonstrates that careful marking of reduction specimens in high-risk patients or in women older than 40 years allows the pathologist to orient, localize, and further section tissue for margin status. Communication among plastic surgeon, pathologist, oncologist, and radiation therapist preserves the choice of breast conserving therapy for early cancers.
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