The waiting is the hardest part, it may seem to women undergoing surgery for breast cancer. Now a new tool takes the guesswork out. Marginprobe is an intraoperative device that can tell doctors whether cancer is still present at the edge of a tumor.
“If you touch the specimen and it has cancer there you go back and take a little bit more tissue before you close, before you wake that patient up,” says Dr. David Rock, who is a surgical breast oncologist on medical staff of Lee Memorial Health System.
Without an instant assessment, about 1 in 4 women will need follow-up surgery to remove more tissue. As part of a lumpectomy, a clear space, or margin, is required before patients are considered cancer free.
“Ideally the tumor would be in the very center, you’d have normal tissue all the way around it, so you’d have normal tissue with the margins. If there’s cancer at the margin, they’re worried that you cut through cancer and left cancer on the other side,” says Dr. Rock.
The Marginprobe is being called a game-changer. Instead of going back for more surgery days after their lumpectomy, the device gives a read in minutes. Available through the Regional Cancer Center, it almost assures patients are ‘one and done’.
“Once we have the specimen out, the device touches against the specimen and shoots a radio-frequency beam into the specimen, and depending on how that reflects back, can tell us whether or not there’s cancer at the edge of the specimen,” says Dr. Rock.
Only a few centers offer this instant ability to probe for answers.
“That again will hopefully drop our need to go back to the operating room down to zero,” says Dr. Rock.
Traditional pathology is still used to confirm the OR findings, so that nothing slips through the cracks.
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Lee Memorial Health System in Fort Myers, FL is the largest network of medical care facilities in Southwest Florida and is highly respected for its expertise, innovation and quality of care. For nearly a century, we’ve been providing our community with everything from primary care treatment to highly specialized care services and robotic assisted surgeries.
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