HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) – A new tool designed to help improve the treatment of breast cancer.
Now more than ever, breast cancer doctors are concerned about how procedures impact the patient well beyond treatment.
The device mostly benefits those who undergo a lumpectomy.
More doctors are turning to a 3-D surgical marker for breast cancer patients.
Specifically, patients who undergo a lumpectomy or breast conservation surgery.
Biozorb — helps to maintain the contour of the breast.
“Sometimes there would be too much tissue lost and you can’t quite get the breast back together they way you want it. So this gives us a little bit of wiggle room in that it fills some of the volume and allows us to reconstruct the breast with a lot less tension,” said Dr. Kimberly Caprio, breast surgeon and co-director of the Breast Center at St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center.
She implants the device into the site of where the cancer was removed.
“After radiation a lot of times the breast will suck into the chest wall and there would be all sorts of deformities and there really wasn’t a very cosmetic result,” Caprio added.
Now, patients like Christine Vigneault are hard pressed to see a deformity.
A tumor was removed from her left breast.
“Apart from strategically hidden scars, I think it would be hard to tell every day that I even had surgery,” says Christine.
Radiation followed her surgery.
It’s here where the marker plays it’s most critical role.
The titanium clips embedded guides radiation oncologist Dr. Joseph Colasanto.
“When we see the patient,” Dr. Colasanto explains, “The cancer has already been removed so we have to know exactly where that cancer was — to focus on that and use the radiation to cleanup any potential cancer cells left behind.”
And the precise delivery decreases radiation exposure to nearby organs which in turn Dr. Colasanto says can reduce side effects.
“In the past we use mammography, the MRI or physical exam but when the patient changes position, the location can change,” he said.
Over time, the body absorbs the material used but the clips remain.
An added plus, as they study how this could impact the rate of recurrence going forward.
“It’s designed to mark that cavity so that we know where that cancer was, going forward years and years,” he adds.
Dr. Caprio says so far early results of their own internal study shows a 50 percent drop of radiation damage among the tissues surrounding the tumor site.