Surgery: smaller operations with better results

Professor Michael Gnant, breast cancer expert

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Gone are the days when 80-90% of women with breast cancer had a mastectomy. Instead, breast conservation has become standard care, with neoadjuvant therapies often used to shrink larger tumours before surgery.

“Our surgical techniques are better, and the use of systemic therapies to shrink tumours means that 90-95% of women can now have breast conserving surgery,” 

Professor Michael Gnant, MD, FACS, Austria.

For women who do need a mastectomy, breast reconstruction can often be done at the same time – reducing the need for repeat surgery and offering women more rapid resolution of their cancer surgery

In many countries, local recurrence rates have fallen significantly due to better surgery, pathology, radiotherapy and radiology, and greater standardisation of procedures.

Even so, there are still questions to be answered, and BIG has established a task force to consider how surgical questions can be integrated into clinical trials.

Research is also exploring whether, in the future, some patients with breast cancer may be able to avoid surgery, but that is unlikely to happen for at least a decade.

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