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Commentary: A call for preventive ethics

BMJ 2009; 338 doi: (Published 11 March 2009) Cite this as: BMJ 2009;338:b753
  1. Jeremy Sugarman, Harvey M Meyerhoff professor of bioethics and medicine
  1. 1Berman Institute of Bioethics and Department of Medicine, 624 N Broadway, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA
  1. jsugarm1{at}

    The current practice of sending reduction mammoplasty specimens for routine histological examination can result in a complicated set of circumstances that raise important ethical issues. As described by Keshtgar and colleagues, a small but measurable subset of these specimens show malignancy of uncertain clinical significance.1 Since patients undergoing this reconstructive procedure apparently are not informed about screening of the tissue removed during surgery, they may be understandably surprised that cancer was found and also face …

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