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September 1993

Frozen-Section Diagnosis of Breast Biopsy SpecimensA Necessary Procedure?

Author Affiliations

Ann Arbor, Mich

Arch Surg. 1993;128(9):955-956. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1993.01420210013001

PROFOUND CHANGES have occurred in the management of breast cancer in recent years. Only a decade ago it was uncommon for patients to participate in decisions about their initial treatment; therefore, it was logical for a clinically or mammographically detected abnormality to be excised and immediately diagnosed by frozen section (FS) and, if carcinoma was present, for the surgeon to proceed with mastectomy. This allowed the patient to have definitive surgical treatment in a single procedure and with a single anesthetic. The FS interpretation of the initial biopsy specimen was pivotal in determining whether or not the mastectomy would be performed.

The advent of lumpectomy followed by irradiation of the breast as an alternative to mastectomy for treatment of carcinoma has modified the need for immediate pathologic assessment of the biopsy specimen. The patient can choose between a mastectomy and conservation therapy, and this choice can be made only after

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