New Study at Breast Care Center May Change Management of Cancer

SPRINGFIELD — Results from a research study initiated at the Breast Care Center at Mercy Medical Center hold promise that women with breast cancer can have those cancers removed without the scarring and disfigurement of conventional surgery.

Initial findings from a feasibility study conducted by Dr. Steven M. Schonholz, medical director at the Breast Care Center, indicate that small breast cancers can be effectively removed through a small incision (percutaneously) with clean margins and the absence of residual disease at rates comparable to conventional surgery.

“The results have the potential to change the way breast cancer is treated,” said Schonholz. “Cancer removal through conventional surgery involves either a mastectomy or lumpectomy. Surgical lumpectomy often involves multiple procedures to assure the entire tumor is removed, or margins. Even if margins are attained, there can be some residual disease — microscopic levels of cancer cells that remain. Our feasibility study indicates that cancers can be removed using the Intact BLES during the initial biopsy at rates comparable to surgery, using these well-accepted metrics.”

The Intact Breast Lesion Excision System (BLES) has been used as a biopsy system at the Breast Care Center for over a year. The BLES removes the entire suspicious lesion, intact, through a small incision. BLES differs from conventional biopsy systems that cut and shred tissue, often making pathological assessment difficult, sometimes impossible.

“When I began to use the BLES, the pathology reports on cancer patients showed a trend; the cancer was removed with clean margins while demonstrating an absence of residual disease after surgery,” said Schonholz. “I began to track the biopsy results of my cancer patients to see if this trend continued.”

This feasibility study on 14 patients whose initial biopsy results were diagnosed as cancer demonstrated that the cancer was removed with margins on eight patients (57{06cf2b9696b159f874511d23dbc893eb1ac83014175ed30550cfff22781411e5}). Residual cancer was absent in seven of these eight patients (88{06cf2b9696b159f874511d23dbc893eb1ac83014175ed30550cfff22781411e5}). The rate of complete removal (with margins) from the initial surgical lumpectomy has been reported in scientific literature between 37 and 68{06cf2b9696b159f874511d23dbc893eb1ac83014175ed30550cfff22781411e5}.

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