Surgery for breast cancer

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Women with breast cancer today have many more therapeutic options available to them for their surgical therapy. Almost all patients with breast cancer have some options for breast conservation. Active patient involvement in analyzing and understanding the pros and cons of each of these options seems extremely important to the long-term emotional and psychological outcome of their breast cancer therapy. Several reports this year have reintroduced the issue of adequate local control. The common philosophy a decade ago was that because systematic therapy (adjuvant chemotherapy) was improving, local therapy would become of lesser importance. Several studies this year have indicated the extreme importance of local control in maximizing survival advantage because of the relationship of increasing local failure and deteriorating survival from systemic disease. Despite significant improvements in treatment, our screening and diagnostic approaches have still failed to identify the majority of lesions prior to the patient's own palpation of the tumor. Using new diagnostic modalities that do not involve surgery, the biopsy of lower probability lesions with great accuracy is expected to improve the efficacy of the current screening measures. Despite all the improvements, the most important therapeutic step in the management of breast cancer remains earlier diagnosis and earlier extirpation of the initial invasive focus of malignancy.

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