When the Margins Are “Clean But Close” After Tumor Removal

A middle category between “clean” and “incomplete” margins helps with a prognosis.


When a veterinarian removes a possible malignant tumor, she also removes a cuff of surrounding normal-appearing tissue to improve the chances that the tumor will not grow back. A pathologist then looks at the perimeter (or “margins”) of the resected tumor under a microscope to see whether it appears to have been fully removed. The margins are categorized as complete (no residual cancer seen) or incomplete (residual cancer seen).

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