TUESDAY, Sept. 11 (HealthDay News) -- A new device meant to help surgeons determine in the operating room if they have removed all cancerous breast cancer tissue may help reduce repeat surgeries after lumpectomy without compromising cosmetic effects, according to a new study.
The device, called MarginProbe, emits an electric field and senses a return signal from the tissue examined. Cancerous tissue provides a different electromagnetic signature than normal tissue, the researchers explained.
"This can potentially decrease having to go back to the operating room and with no real effect on your [cosmetic] outcome," said study leader Dr. Susan Boolbol, chief of breast surgery at Beth Israel Medical Center, in New York City.
The study of nearly 500 patients undergoing breast-conserving surgery found little difference in the volume of tissue removed when the device was used compared to traditional detection methods.
"The reality is, most of the time we leave the operating room and we don't know if we have a clear margin [with all cancer removed] or not," Boolbol said. Doctors wait for the pathology report to find that out, which can take a week or two. With the new device, the wait time is about five minutes.
"Everything still goes through pathology," Boolbol said. But the MarginProbe is another tool that might help reduce the odds of needing a subsequent surgery, she said.
Boolbol is scheduled to present the findings Thursday at the American Society of Clinical Oncology's breast cancer symposium in San Francisco.
In June, the radiation-free device won the blessing of a U.S. Food and Drug Administration advisory panel. The FDA usually follows the advisory panel's recommendations, so device approval is anticipated.
For the study, Boolbol and her colleagues randomly assigned 495 breast cancer patients to receive the MarginProbe after lumpectom
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