Surgeons who use ultrasound during breast cancer surgery can improve the accuracy of their work, by using the technology to determine exactly where to cut when removing a tumor.
That’s the key finding of a new study by University of California-San Diego researchers who are working to develop a better way for breast surgeons to precisely remove cancerous tissues.
Currently, doctors who perform lumpectomies remove tumors through incisions in the breast with the aid of guide wires that protrude out of the breast to help locate the tumor. But the wires are prone to movement, and can produce imprecise results. SPECIAL: This Small Group of Doctors are Quietly Curing Cancer — Read More.
But the new ultrasound technique allows surgeons to be more precise in removing the entire tumor, and leave a layer of healthy tissue, without the use of wires.
"We are trying to improve the markers surgeons use so they can pull the tumors out with more precision and ease, while reducing trauma for the patient," said Alex Liberman, a member of the research team, which presented their findings at a scientific meeting this week in Tampa, Fla.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women and a primary cause of death in women over 40. Over a lifetime, 1 in 8 women in the U.S. develop breast cancer. Many patients opt for lumpectomy over mastectomy, but the breast-conserving technique can be difficult, with up to 25 percent of lumpectomies requiring a second surgery to excise the entire tumor.
The UCSD developed a technique using ultrasound markers to guide a surgeon during breast lumpectomy. They found precisely marking the tumors can decrease the number of second surgeries by 50 percent.
Although the findings are preliminary, researchers said they hope to begin testing the technique in human clinical breast cancer trials.SPECIAL: This Small Group of Doctors are Quietly Curing Cancer — Read More.