Current status of ultrasound-guided surgery in the treatment of breast cancer

José H Volders, Max H Haloua, NMA Krekel - Taminiau, Sybren Meijer, Petrousjka M van den Tol

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The primary goal of breast-conserving surgery (BCS) is to obtain tumour-free resection margins. Margins positive or focally positive for tumour cells are associated with a high risk of local recurrence, and in the case of tumour-positive margins, re-excision or even mastectomy are sometimes needed to achieve definite clear margins. Unfortunately, tumour-involved margins and re-excisions after lumpectomy are still reported in up to 40% of patients and additionally, unnecessary large excision volumes are described. A secondary goal of BCS is the cosmetic outcome and one of the main determinants of worse cosmetic outcome is a large excision volume. Up to 30% of unsatisfied cosmetic outcome is reported. Therefore, the search for better surgical techniques to improve margin status, excision volume and consequently, cosmetic outcome has continued. Nowadays, the most commonly used localization methods for BCS of non-palpable breast cancers are wire-guided localization (WGL) and radio-guided localization (RGL). WGL and RGL are invasive procedures that need to be performed pre-operatively with technical and scheduling difficulties. For palpable breast cancer, tumour excision is usually guided by tactile skills of the surgeon performing "blind" surgery. One of the surgical techniques pursuing the aims of radicality and small excision volumes includes intra-operative ultrasound (IOUS). The best evidence available demonstrates benefits of IOUS with a significantly high proportion of negative margins compared with other localization techniques in palpable and non-palpable breast cancer. Additionally, IOUS is non-invasive, easy to learn and can centralize the tumour in the excised specimen with low amount of healthy breast tissue being excised. This could lead to better cosmetic results of BCS. Despite the advantages of IOUS, only a small amount of surgeons are performing this technique. This review aims to highlight the position of ultrasound-guided surgery for malignant breast tumours in the search for better oncological and cosmetic outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)44-53
Number of pages10
JournalWorld journal of clinical oncology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 10 Feb 2016

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