Evolution of minimal access breast surgery

Chi Wei Mok, Hung-Wen Lai


Surgical management of breast cancer has been evolving rapidly over the past 20–30 years. Prior to this, conventional surgical options were limited to either a mastectomy or breast conserving surgery. The demand for better aesthetic outcomes had driven the development of oncoplastic breast conserving surgery where glandular rearrangement or replacement coupled with thoughtfully placed incisions became the standard approach to breast conserving surgery. As breast surgeons and patients demand for improved aesthetic outcomes, minimally invasive or minimal access breast surgery has gained much attention over the past two decades, from endoscopic assisted to robotic-assisted breast surgery more recently. However, there has been a lack of review articles discussing this relatively recent but under-reported subset of surgical techniques in the management of breast cancer. This article aims to discuss the concept and development of minimal access breast surgery along with a review of current literature on its indications, techniques and outcome measures as well as a discussion on the strengths, limitations as well as future directions. Continued improvement in techniques and advancement of technology will definitely increase the likelihood of minimal access techniques being placed as the standard of care in the management of breast cancer.