BACKGROUND: Future innovations in science and technology with an impact on multimodal breast cancer management from a surgical perspective are discussed in this narrative review. The work was undertaken in response to the Commission on the Future of Surgery project initiated by the Royal College of Surgeons of England.

METHODS: Expert opinion was sought around themes of surgical de-escalation, reduction in treatment morbidities, and improving the accuracy of breast-conserving surgery in terms of margin status. There was emphasis on how the primacy of surgical excision in an era of oncoplastic and reconstructive surgery is increasingly being challenged, with more effective systemic therapies that target residual disease burden, and permit response-adapted approaches to both breast and axillary surgery.

RESULTS: Technologies for intraoperative margin assessment can potentially half re-excision rates after breast-conserving surgery, and sentinel lymph node biopsy will become a therapeutic procedure for many patients with node-positive disease treated either with surgery or chemotherapy as the primary modality. Genomic profiling of tumours can aid in the selection of patients for neoadjuvant and adjuvant therapies as well as prevention strategies. Molecular subtypes are predictive of response to induction therapies and reductive approaches to surgery in the breast or axilla.

CONCLUSION: Treatments are increasingly being tailored and based on improved understanding of tumour biology and relevant biomarkers to determine absolute benefit and permit delivery of cost-effective healthcare. Patient involvement is crucial for breast cancer studies to ensure relevance and outcome measures that are objective, meaningful, and patient-centred.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)908-916
Number of pages9
JournalThe British Journal of Surgery
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 19 Aug 2021


  • Breast Neoplasms/surgery
  • Female
  • Forecasting
  • Humans
  • Mastectomy, Segmental/methods


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