NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – A simple little implant makes breast cancer radiation treatment shorter and more accurate, and it even gives a better cosmetic result after surgery.
As CBS2’s Dr. Max Gomez reports, this news is for the many women who choose a lumpectomy for their breast cancer.
Thanks to mammography, women are finding their breast cancer at much earlier stages when they can still have the breast-conserving surgery. Now, a little coil of dissolvable material is making that choice even better.
It was just a few months ago that one woman named Patricia went for her routine screening mammogram. She hadn’t felt a lump, but the mammogram found an early type of breast cancer called DCIS.
“No brainer – we’re going for the lumpectomy,” she said. “Then, that made me think twice, because I have small breasts.”
That’s a consideration, because even though a lumpectomy conserves the breast, the cosmetic result might not be great.
“If we do a wide excision, we take the tumor out, we create a void in the breast. So that breast tissue is removed, it’s not replaced,” said Dr. Stephanie Bernik, chief of surgical oncology at Lenox Hill Hospital. “If skin scars down and sort of gets pulled into that defect, you can get an in-turning of the breast and a poor cosmetic result.”
That’s where the little device, called Biozorb, can help. It’s made of dissolvable suture material with a few tiny titanium clips embedded. It’s placed in the area where cancer tissue was removed – the so-called tumor bed. That fills the void and prevents the tissue from collapsing and leaving a depression in the breast.
Bernik showed Dr. Max what the device looks like on a mammogram, which has the significant added benefit of giving doctors a clear, 3-D target to aim the radiation therapy that’s needed to prevent cancer recurrence.
“This really accurately marks that tumor bed,” she said. “Then, the radiation oncologist knows to really target that issue.”
That accurate targeting often means that radiation treatments can be much shorter.
When Patricia was told of the Biozorb option, she was convinced.
“That’s what gave me peace of mind to go for the lumpectomy. Knowing that I’d have a good result,” she said.
Because radiation therapy is shorter, the overall cost of breast cancer therapy is estimated to be as much as 25 percent less, according to a recent study.
The device dissolves over a year or two, but the metal clips stay, which is important because then doctors know where to look for a possible recurrence.