Does the Surgeon Sometimes See More Cancer than is Expected During Breast Cancer Surgery?

Question: Does the surgeon sometimes see more cancer than is expected during breast cancer surgery?

Answer: When we operate on a woman who's been recently diagnosed with breast cancer we try to have the most information possible when we go into the operating room, meaning we try to know how extensive the disease is either on a mammogram, an ultrasound or an MRI. Because we are so prepared, we typically don't find more in the operating room than we expect to find based on these studies done before the surgery. On occasion we will go into the operating room, start the procedure, and find something unexpected. This is certainly not normal; it's certainly much more uncommon for that to happen. In those situations the surgeon will typically use their judgment about whether that tissue should be removed. And if there is any question at all, they would wait and discuss the options at that point with the patient once you've woken up.

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