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Cancerous Breast Tissue Color Coded After Surgery

Advanced Margin Analysis and Gene Expression Profile Testing Provide Benefits to Breast Cancer Surgery Patients at St. Luke's Hospital

Dr. L. Riley

Techniques provide vital information helping to improve treatment and outcomes

Bethlehem, PA (10/11/2010) - St. Luke's Hospital is one of 10 hospitals in Pennsylvania and was one of the first in the state to use MarginMarker® to color-code cancerous breast tissue immediately after surgical removal to see if the entire cancer was removed during the procedure.

St. Luke's fellowship-trained surgical oncologists and most general surgeons performing breast cancer surgery at St. Luke's Hospital have been using this innovative device since 2008. It allows for a higher level of precision and greater accuracy for surgeons, radiologists and pathologists involved in the patient's care, and helps improve outcomes following breast cancer surgery.

Using six different inks, the operating surgeon color-codes the entire excised breast tissue specimen to show exactly how the tissue was positioned, or oriented, in the body. “I have found this to be the most precise and accurate way of orienting the tissue and ensuring we completely removed the cancerous tissue,” says Lee B. Riley, MD, PhD, FACS, surgical oncologist and Medical Director of Oncology, St. Luke's Hospital & Health Network.

Important New Standard of Care in Breast Cancer Treatment

“Dr. Riley showed strong leadership as one of the first physicians in the nation to establish the use of the MarginMarker color-coding system as an important new standard of care in the treatment of breast cancer,” says Janet Phillips, co-founder and CEO of Vector Surgical, developer of MarginMarker and other innovative surgical devices. “He worked with physician colleagues in surgery, radiology and pathology to establish using the MarginMarker system in a programmatic way for the benefit of all breast cancer patients of St. Luke's Hospital."

Our goal is not only to remove the cancerous tumor, but to preserve as much healthy tissue as possible, according to Dr. Riley. “After the inks are applied, the color-coded specimen goes to Radiology and an X-ray is taken,” he says. “The X-ray will show us if cancer still exists at the edge of the tissue specimen, suggesting further surgical excision at the site is warranted, and exactly where the tissue needs to be taken. We also know if there is a desirable margin of healthy tissue surrounding the tissue which would suggest the tumor has been eradicated.”

St. Luke's is First in Region to offer MammaPrint®

Following X-ray, the excised breast tumor is immediately sent to Pathology where the tumor is dissected and a sample taken so that the genetic profile of the tumor can be evaluated. St. Luke's uses genetic profile testing of an individual's breast cancer to determine if chemotherapy should be given as an adjuvant therapy. St. Luke's was the first facility in the region to offer MammaPrint®, an FDA-cleared 70-gene genomic profile that provides information about tumor biology and actively identifies a woman's risk for recurrence.

“MammaPrint can provide prognostic information in both ER-positive and ER-negative early-stage, node-negative breast cancer,” says Dr. Riley. This test requires that the tissue be appropriately preserved at the biopsy procedure or at the time of surgery.

“These two techniques have allowed St. Luke's to provide superior clinical care for our breast cancer patients, increasing the likelihood of better outcomes following surgery,” says Dr. Riley.