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Can someone explain margins?

Posts: 16
Joined: Aug 2017

I had my partial neph last Thursday - recovery hasn't been too bad, except the dredded constipation - UGH

One thing my Dr said was that he was worried about the margins - the pathology report said they were negative, but some thing else is making him concerned they are more in the positive range. I have my followup in 2 weeks, so I plan on asking more questions then. But can someone explain exactly what margins are?

He told my mom everything that happened, and that is not translating very well when she tells me everything :-) All I know is it was a 3 hour surgery that lasted 6 hours and he was able to do a partial on my left, I lost lots of blood, needed a blood transfusion, and there was a vein that was not expected that caused all sorts of problems and he had to go a special procedure on it.





APny's picture
Posts: 1998
Joined: Mar 2014

From my understanding margin is the tissue on the outer edge of the tumor that was removed. Negative means there are no cancer cells present, meaning there shouldn't be any left behind on the kidney either. Positive would mean there are some cells present. I'm kind of confused (like you) how pathology could say it's negative yet your surgeon is concerned. Definitely get clarification from your surgeon.

Posts: 16
Joined: Aug 2017

Thanks, that helps. I'm definitely confused about all of it - looking forward to meeting with him and putting all the pieces together.


AnnissaP's picture
Posts: 632
Joined: Sep 2017

My bf relayed some confusing info to me as well after my surgery lol. I am sure the dr will clearly explain things to you when you see him. Wishing you a smooth recovery!!!

stub1969's picture
Posts: 888
Joined: Jul 2016

Reread your pathology.  You weill see a measurement for speciment size.  You'll also see a measurement for the tumor size.  The tumor size should be smaller.  That's because they (doctors) cut a little bigger so they get good tissue between your tumor and kidney tissue that is left behind.  The margins is that difference between the tumor tissue and good tissue that they took out.  

Try to relax a little--I had microscopic positive margins on a portion of the tumor cut out.  This was very concerning for me, but I found some studies that supported the fact that positive margins didn't necessarily lead to a higher rate of reoccurance.  My doctor confirmed that.  He told me that as they cut the tumor they cauterize as they cut.  They told me they were confident that positive tissue left behind was burned.

Kind of confusing isn't it. 

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