Use of touch preps for diagnosis and evaluation of surgical margins in breast cancer

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The best cosmetic results with conservative breast surgery are obtained at the time of initial excisional biopsy. The usefulness of the touch prep (TP) technique was evaluated for accuracy in diagnosis as well as in evaluation of margins at the time of original breast biopsy.


Four hundred twenty-eight consecutive patients with breast masses seen from January 1993 to December 1994 were evaluated prospectively using TP.


Three hundred forty-five benign and 83 malignant tumors were evaluated. Tumors ranged in size from microscopic to 8 cm. Pathologic diagnosis was correct as compared to permanent section in 99.3%. The three carcinomas missed on TP were focal and in situ. Sensitivity was 96.39%, and specificity was 100%. Positive predictive value was 100%, and negative predictive value was 99.3%. For margin evaluation, the sensitivity and specificity were both estimated to be 100%.


TP has the advantage of being a simple, quick (2 to 3 minutes), safe (no loss of diagnostic material), and accurate method for diagnosis and estimation of tumor margins at the time of the original surgery.

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