New tool helps doctors remove breast cancer tumors more precisely

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Women facing surgery for breast cancer are often concerned - will the surgeon get it all? And how will he or she know?

Several local hospitals are using a new tool to better answer that right in the operating room and help women beat the odds of breast cancer.

When Dr. Lisa Jablon of Einstein Medical Center performs a lumpectomy, the goal is clear.

"You want to remove the tumor, with a little edge of normal tissue around it. Typically it's about 2 millimeters," she said.

Markers and x-rays in the OR help to map tumors, which can be irregular - like spiders, stretching into breast tissue.

"You may remove the big mass, but you haven't gotten all the tentacles," said Dr. Jablon.

Remnants left behind can mean a second operation.

But a device called MarginProbe can help Dr. Jablon be certain she's removing enough, but not too much.
"You put the probe on the tissue. The tissue sucks up into the surface of the probe slightly, and you press a button," she said.

Radiofrequency energy tells her which cells are malignant, and which are normal.

"Red - no good - or blue - you've got a clear edge," said Dr. Jablon.

When she gets red readings, Dr. Jablon removes a little more tissue. She records the readings and compares them to what the pathology lab finds later.

So far, MarginProbe has cut her patients' 2nd operations in half and she hopes it might help women feel confident that lumpectomies stop cancer just as well as mastectomies.

"Anything that helps put light on the situation and helps people make good choices I think would be helpful," said Dr. Jablon.

For more information on MarginProbe, including finding local surgeons, click here.

For more information on Einstein Medical Center, click here.
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