Joy Taylor is about to have a lumpectomy. Her doctor is using a new FDA-approved device that helps breast cancer patients avoid additional surgery.
"The process of this is frightening enough; the last thing I want to do is do it twice," she said.
The MarginProbe system is able to detect cancerous cells on the edges of removed tumor tissue so doctors know if they're getting all the cancer. It takes just a few minutes for the device to detect the different electrical signals that malignant and healthy cells give off and determine whether there is a safe, clean margin. Doctors estimate 30-60 percent of early stage breast cancer patients will need repeat surgery after a lumpectomy.
"We wind up with a final pathology report showing cancer cells at a margin and have to take additional tissue," said Dr. Deanna Attai, a surgeon at Providence St. Joseph Medical Center.
The MarginProbe is used together with traditional methods, including ultrasound and visual inspection of the breast tissue. And it's making a difference.
"Everybody has been beyond helpful and kind," Taylor said.
She's thankful test results show her doctor got all the cancer the first time around.
Providence St. Joseph Medical Center in Burbank, Calif., is one of six hospitals around the country using the MarginProbe device. It's expected to become more widely available later this year.
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