Background: There is some debate in the recent literature regarding the routine submission of mastectomy scars for histologic analysis when performing delayed breast reconstructions. The aim of this study was to review the relevant publications and evaluate the practice of routine histologic examination of mastectomy scars.
Methods: The authors conducted a retrospective review, across three regional plastic and reconstructive surgery units, of 433 patients who had 455 scars routinely sent for histologic examination following delayed breast reconstruction between January of 2000 and December of 2006. Patients with clinical evidence of recurrent carcinoma were excluded.
Results: Data from 433 patients revealed an average age at reconstruction of 49.9 years (range, 25 to 77 years). The mean interval from primary breast surgery to reconstruction was 3.9 years (range, 2 months to 32 years), and the average length of patient follow-up, from primary surgery, was 6.4 years (range, 1 to 40 years). The majority of the initial operations were carried out for invasive carcinoma (89 percent). Four mastectomy scars in three patients were positive for carcinoma recurrence.
Conclusions: The publications related to the practice of routine histologic analysis of mastectomy scars provide conflicting conclusions. As a proportion of patients may benefit from the early detection and treatment of locoregional recurrence, the authors suggest that the routine submission of mastectomy scars will allow for the earlier detection of soft-tissue recurrences that may affect long-term outcome. In keeping with cancer surgery principles, the authors recommend routine histologic examination of mastectomy scars following delayed breast reconstruction.