Q: What is the MarginProbe® System for breast cancer treatment?
A: The MarginProbe® System is a new technology that helps surgeons assess
the margins, or borders, of a lumpectomy performed for breast cancer during
surgery. Getting a rim of normal tissue around the edges of the lump that’s
removed is the key to a successful lumpectomy, otherwise known as Breast
The MarginProbe® allows the surgeon to get immediate feedback, so I
know if I need to excise additional tissue from any of the edges while
we are in the operating room. This technology has been shown to reduce
the number of patients who have to go back for a second surgery to have
additional tissue removed at a later date. What a lot of patients don’t
realize is that the tissue has to be fixed in formalin and stained on
slides, so the pathologist doesn’t look at the tissue under the
microscope until a day or two after the surgery. With any lumpectomy,
there is always a chance that the final pathology report will show some
cancer cells at the edge of the lumpectomy. The national average is probably
close to 25% of all patients having a lumpectomy that need a second surgery
to clear the margins. That doesn’t mean the surgeon did something
wrong; those cells can’t be seen without a microscope. That is why
the MarginProbe® is such a great help, because it helps the surgeon
to “see” what is at the edge of the tissue in real time. The
MarginProbe® can cut the number of patients with positive margins in half.
The MarginProbe® can be used for any type of breast cancer. I have
found it to be especially helpful in DCIS (ductal carcinoma in situ),
where microscopic cancer cells are present but there is no actual tumor
that can be seen with the naked eye; and for invasive lobular cancer.
Most surgeons have not yet incorporated the use of MarginProbe® into
their practice, and it is not available at every hospital. I am fortunate
that Torrance Memorial Medical Center was supportive of my wish to provide
my patients with the latest technology, so all of my patients can get
cutting edge care!