A Look at the Other Side: High-Risk Lesions and Occult Contralateral Malignancy in Symmetry Procedures for Patients Undergoing Oncoplastic Breast-Conserving Surgery.

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Publication Date


Publication Title

Annals of surgical oncology : the official journal of the Society of Surgical Oncology


california; sjci; Humans; Female; Breast Neoplasms; Mastectomy; Mastectomy, Segmental; Mammaplasty; Carcinoma, Intraductal, Noninfiltrating; Neoplasms, Unknown Primary; Retrospective Studies


BACKGROUND: The incidence of occult breast cancer among patients undergoing reduction mammoplasty or risk-reducing mastectomies ranges from 1% to approximately 10%, respectively. Identification of incidental cancer often mandates subsequent mastectomy due to ambiguous margins. This study aimed to determine the incidence of contralateral malignancy among patients undergoing oncoplastic breast-conserving surgery (OBCS) with concurrent symmetry procedures.

METHODS: The authors reviewed their prospectively maintained institutional database of patients with unilateral breast cancer who underwent OBCS. Patients who underwent excisional biopsy on the contralateral breast were analyzed separately. Patient demographics, pathologic features, and subsequent disease management were evaluated.

RESULTS: Between March 2018 and July 2022, 289 patients underwent OBCS with a symmetry procedure, and 100 patients yielded contralateral breast tissue specimens. For 14 patients, a planned excisional biopsy was performed with their symmetry procedure, and five lesions (36%) were found to be malignant. Of the remaining 86 patients, 92% underwent preoperative breast magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Four patients (4.7%) had occult malignancies identified on the contralateral breast pathology; three patients with ductal carcinoma in situ and one patient with invasive lobular carcinoma. Three patients had undergone preoperative MRI without suspicious findings. No patients required mastectomy for treatment of the contralateral breast cancer.

CONCLUSION: The incidence of occult malignancy among OBCS symmetry procedures approaches 5%. The final pathology of excisional biopsies had a higher upgrade rate than previously reported. All identified malignancies were early-stage disease. The higher incidence of occult breast cancer in this population warrants the routine orientation of all specimens, which allows patients with incidental early-stage cancer the option of breast preservation.

Clinical Institute


Clinical Institute

Women & Children