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A Journal on Obstetrics and Gynecology

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Minerva Ginecologica 2013 August;65(4):363-83


language: English

Surgical impact of new treatments in breast cancer

Alkatout I. 1, Order B. 2, Klapper W. 3, Weigel M. T. 1, Jonat W. 1, Schaefer F. K. W. 2, Mundhenke C. 1, Wenners A. 1

1 Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics, University Hospitals Schleswig-Holstein, Campus Kiel, Kiel, Germany; 2 Breast Care Center, University Hospitals Schleswig-Holstein, Campus Kiel, Kiel, Germany; 3 Insitute of Pathology, University Hospitals Schleswig-Holstein, Campus Kiel, Kiel, Germany


Local treatment of breast cancer with tumor-free surgical margins is the standard procedure in the treatment of T1 and small T2 breast cancers. Surgery is followed by radiation therapy, and adjuvant systemic therapy is offered depending on primary tumor characteristics, such as tumor size, grade of differentiation, number of involved axillary lymph nodes, the status of estrogen (ER) and progesterone (PR) receptors, and the expression of the human epidermal growth factor 2 (HER2) receptor. Although this approach implies a higher risk of ipsilateral breast tumor recurrence, the total risk of recurrence is low (1% per year), with rates of overall survival similar to that after radical procedures. The most peripheral part of epithelial tumors, the tumor margin, is the part which is most likely to remain in loco after surgical resection. Thus, understanding the biology of the invasion front is important as these tumor cells have been reported to lose epithelial properties, such as cohesiveness and keratin expression, and to acquire features of mesenchymal cells. The parallel appearance of tumor cells in different states of cell dedifferentiation implicates a dynamic equilibrium that is determined by the induction of epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT). EMT has been suggested to be of prime importance for tissue and vessel invasion. Furthermore, features of EMT are associated with the activity of tumor stem cells (TSC). TSC exist in breast cancer and their appearance varies depending on the used marker profile. Consequently, intratumoral heterogeneity is reflected by the grade of EMT activation. A specific function at the invasion front is hypothesized but has not yet been proven. Nevertheless, the molecular differentiation between the tumor center and the invasion front enhances the importance of tumor-free surgical margins.

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