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Retraction of cutaneous specimens: tumours and margins after surgical excision
  1. Marine Sevray1,
  2. Emilie Brenaut1,2,
  3. Yann Grangier3,
  4. Laurent Misery1,2,
  5. Florence Poizeau4,
  6. Frédéric Staroz5
  1. 1 Dermatologie, CHU Brest, Brest, France
  2. 2 Faculté de Médecine et des Sciences de la Santé de Brest, Université de Bretagne Occidentale, Brest, France
  3. 3 Chirurgie esthétique et de médecine esthétique, Clinique de l'Océan, Quimper, France
  4. 4 REPERES, Recherche en Pharmaco-épidémiologie et recours aux soins, UPRES EA-7449, Université de Rennes, Rennes, France
  5. 5 Anatomo-cyto-pathologie, Ouest Pathologie, Quimper, France
  1. Correspondence to Marine Sevray, Dermatologie, CHU Brest, Brest 29200, France; marine.sevray{at}


Aims In previous studies, skin retraction of dermato-pathological specimens after the surgical excision of tumours was calculated at 30% for the surface, with approximately 20% for the length and 15% for the width. The aim of this study was to analyse the retraction of the specimens and the retraction of the lesion and the margins.

Methods Patients who underwent excision of a skin tumour between January 2013 and July 2014 were randomly included.

Results A total of 104 patients was included. There were 52% male with a mean age of 68.3 years. Seventy-eight per cent of the lesions were malignant (51% were basal cell carcinoma, 10% squamous cell carcinoma). The retraction of the area of the specimen (29%) was significantly greater than the retraction of the tumour (21%). On multivariate analysis, the localisation and the duration of fixation were independent predictors of the specimen area retraction. The retraction of the specimen was 17% in length and 15% in width. The retraction of the margins was calculated at 19% in length and 12% in width. The surgeon correctly evaluated the localisation of the smallest margin in 55% of cases.

Conclusions Our study provided additional data regarding the retraction of the tumours and margins. The guidelines for surgical excision of skin cancers recommend a clinical margin before excision, but the evaluation of the sufficiency of the margins is based on histological measurement. Our data are useful for the interpretation of the sufficiency of the margins.

  • skin retraction
  • shrinkage
  • cutaneous specimens
  • skin carcinoma
  • melanoma
  • margins

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  • Handling editor Dhirendra Govender.

  • MS and EB contributed equally.

  • Contributors FS contributed to the design of the study and gathered the data. MS, FS and EB analysed the results. MS and EB wrote the paper. FS and LM revised the paper.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data availability statement All data relevant to the study are included in the article or uploaded as supplementary information.

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