KeepHealthCare.ORG – Treatment may reduce surgeries for breast cancer patients – Story
East Norriton, Pa. (WTXF) – There’s more hope for breast cancer patients with a treatment that might reduce the number of times they have to have surgery and it’s happening right here in our area.
“Confident but nervous, yeah.” A little bit of nervous laughter from Paulette Hess who was prepping for a lumpectomy on her right breast. The same cancer surgery she had on her left side 13 years ago by the same surgeon.
“2005 when I had the first lumpectomy done. I actually did have to comeback a second time and get surgery again to take a wider margin,” she said.
“Hopefully, in 2018 I can have her surgery done in one procedure rather than two,” Doctor Jennifer Simmons said.
How does she plan to do that?
“I push it into the tissue, there’s a vacuum kind of device,” she explained.
Doctor Jennifer Simmons, Chief of Breast Surgery at Einstein Medical Center Montgomery ,shows Paulette a tool she using , which was not available 13 years ago —the MarginProbe.
It’s designed to test the margin of breast tissue removed surrounding the cancerous tumor to see if it indicates normal or abnormal.
“And then, I go back in afterwards and take more tissue in the area where it was abnormal,” Dr. Simmons said.
Right there in the operating room while the patient is still on the table before reconstructive surgery is completed and before the specimen is sent to a lab. Hopefully, avoiding weeks of worrying about what test results will show.
“Besides that delay, it’s just the emotional devastation of thinking you were done that part and having to start all over again,” Dr. Simmons said. “You wanna do it right the first time.”
Dr. Simmons says she’s been able to cut her return surgeries by more than half saving patients thousands of dollars in addition to the emotional strain and the physical scarring.
Still, not every surgeon is on board with MarginProbe reports showing they want a bit more long-term evidence.
Dr.. Simmons agrees the priority is saving lives but says for women what can be preserved matters as well.
“About 30% of my patients at the time they get cancer surgery, they get a lift, they’ll get a reduction,” Dr. Simmons said. “I don’t want it to be a constant reminder of the fact you had breast cancer. I want people to get treat for breast cancer and move on with their lives,” Dr. Simmons said.
Dr. Simmons says the extra procedure adds only a few minutes on to the surgery even if she has to go back and take more tissue. She also says there is no added cost on the patient’s bill.