Quality of diagnosis and surgical management of breast lesions in a community hospital: room for improvement?
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BACKGROUND: We aimed to examine both the diagnostic modalities used to identify breast lesions and their surgical management in an Ontario community hospital. METHODS: We conducted a retrospective chart review of the preoperative diagnostic tools used by 6 general surgeons for palpable and nonpalpable breast lesions and considered the types of surgical procedures performed. Patients who underwent noncosmetic breast surgery in the year 2000 were included in the study (n = 180). RESULTS: Of the 182 breast lesions, 89 (49%) were malignant. Of the 100 palpable lesions removed, fine needle aspiration biopsy (FNAB) was performed on 48. Positive FNABs in this study were highly predictive of malignancy (100%). Only 1 core needle biopsy was performed on a palpable lesion. Of the 78 mammograms obtained for nonpalpable lesions, the PPV (positive predictive value) of malignancy for "suggestive" lesions was 100%, 75% for "suspicious" lesions, 40% for "probably benign" lesions, 0% for "benign" lesions and 37% for lesions categorized as "needs additional imaging." Other preoperative diagnostic tools used were ultrasonography (n = 44) and stereotactic biopsies (n = 3). Of the initial operations performed, 76 were lumpectomies and 88 were needle-localized biopsies. Only 15 patients underwent initial definitive procedures, and of these 5 had positive margins and 8 had close (< or = 1-mm) margins. Positive margins were found in 35% of the needle-localized lumpectomies (61% had a close margin), in 60% of lumpectomies (75% had a close margin) and in 2 of the 5 lumpectomies with axillary node dissections done as first operations. Six frozen sections were obtained. Only 11% of surgical specimens were oriented for pathology. Reoperations were performed on 91% of women with malignancies (or 67% with a close margin). CONCLUSIONS: Considerable variation existed between surgeons with regard to the types of preoperative diagnostic procedure used and operations performed. The rate of positive margins was high, which resulted in many reoperations.
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