Video: Pathologist and Surgeon Team to Find the Extent of a Breast Cancer

09/26/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

Most women who have cancer can save their breast with a lumpectomy, followed by radiation therapy.

Dr. Deborah Axelrod, a breast surgeon, tells us that a small number of recurrences in the breast are expected with breast conservation.

Dr. Baljit Singh, a pathologist, reports the factors that he examines under a microscope which can keep this to a low and acceptable rate. It is about margins, the tissue surrounding the cancer when it is removed.

The surgeon has to mark the tissues removed with sutures and clips and the pathologist carefully inks it with different colors for orientation. The desired result is a rim of normal tissue, not containing cancer cells.

Dr. Singh talks about other factors : multicentricity, lympho-vascular invasion and hormone receptors. These determine the behavior of the cancer and are found in the pathology report. The surgeon interprets these and this motivates decisions about further treatment.

This post was originally posted on BeetMedicine.TV by the site's medical director Peter Pressman, MD

About our interviewees:

Baljit Singh, MD, Associate Professor &
Director of Breast Pathology at NYU Cancer Institute at NYU Langone Medical Center

Deborah Axelrod, MD, Associate Professor
& Director of Clinical Breast Services and Medical Director, Community
Outreach & Education at NYU Cancer Institute at NYU Langone Medical Center