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The current peer-reviewed veterinary literature contains conflicting information regarding the impact of surgical margin completeness on risk of local tumour recurrence in canine soft tissue sarcoma (STS). This systematic review and meta-analysis was designed to answer the clinical question: “Does obtaining microscopically tumour-free surgical margins reduce risk for local tumour recurrence in canine cutaneous and subcutaneous STS?” A total of 486 citations were screened, 66 of which underwent full-text evaluation, with 10 studies representing 278 STS excisions ultimately included. Cumulatively, 16/164 (9.8%) of completely excised and 38/114 (33.3%) of incompletely excised STS recurred. An overall relative risk of 0.396 (95% confidence interval = 0.248 - 0.632) was calculated for local recurrence in STS excised with complete margins as compared to STS excised with incomplete margins. Risk of bias was judged to be low for all studies in terms of selection bias and detection bias but high for all studies in terms of performance bias and exclusion bias. The results of the present meta-analysis, coupled with the results of individual previous studies, strongly suggest that microscopically complete surgical margins confer a significantly reduced risk for local tumour recurrence in canine STS. Future studies ideally should adhere to standardized conducting and reporting guidelines to reduce systematic bias. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
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