Can Breast Cancer Patients Avoid Multiple Surgeries?

When Jane Davis was diagnosed with breast cancer last July, she began learning as much as she could about her disease. Davis quickly discovered one of the most startling statistics about breast cancer: Up to 40 percent of women who have a lumpectomy require a second surgery. That’s because surgeons often cannot microscopically remove the entire tumor.

But Mehra Golshan, MD, FACS, director of Breast Surgical Services at Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center, is trying to change that with a phase I breast surgery pilot study. It’s the first of its kind in the world.

Here’s how it works: The procedure takes place in the AMIGO operating room, a unique suite at Brigham and Women’s Hospital equipped with MRI, CT scan, PET scan, X-ray, and ultrasound capabilities. An initial MRI taken just prior to the procedure provides a clear view of the tumor location. The surgeon then sees real-time images as the procedure progresses, allowing the medical team to review results of the surgery while the patient is still in the operating room. Additional tissue can be removed as needed, without requiring a second surgery.

Mehra Golshan, MD, FACS
Mehra Golshan, MD, FACS, is evaluating a type of breast surgery that captures the entire tumor.

Golshan says it’s a safer, more effective, and less intrusive option. Initial results are promising, with women having their tumor removed in its entirety.

For Davis, the procedure allowed her to focus on healing. During her successful surgery last September, her entire tumor was removed. She had only minimal discomfort and felt well enough to go back to work soon after.

“I was confident that this procedure would offer me the best chance of a positive outcome, and help me avoid a second surgery,” Davis said. “I feel so grateful for the wonderful care I’ve received.”

4 thoughts on “Can Breast Cancer Patients Avoid Multiple Surgeries?”

  1. ThIs all sounds wonderful..but they also take out lymph nodes. I had a lump removed and some lymph nodes. They got the entire lump and some tissue. The tissue was clear surrounding the lump, but I had positive lymph nodes and had to go back for a second surgery to remove more nodes. So initially before any surgery they said I had stage 1 after both surgeries it was stated It was stage 4….but I am cancer free right now after chemo and radiation and on Tomoxifan . Hope to stay that way…

    • Dear Marcia
      Thank you for sending this note and I am glad to hear that you are cancer free! We also do the lymph node surgery in AMIGO as well, but you are correct there is always a chance for a second operation. We are just hoping to minimize that chance.

  2. Can’t you also develop an imaging technique to identify whether there are cancer cells in the lymph nodes BEFORE cutting them out? That would save thousands of patients from unnecessary node removal and lymphedema. . .

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