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Release Date: 05/11/2015

Women & Infants Hospital of Rhode Island, a Care New England hospital, is the first in the state to offer breast cancer patients access to the MarginProbe™ System, which is three times more effective in identifying cancer on the margin of a breast mass during a lumpectomy than traditional methods.

David Edmonson, MD, a surgeon in the Breast Health Center, part of the Program in Women's Oncology at Women & Infants, has been trained to use the new device, which provides him with real-time positive cancer detection for breast cancer patients during a lumpectomy. Two additional breast surgeons – Drs. Ashley Stuckey and Jennifer Gass, co-director of the Breast Health Center and chief of surgery at Women & Infants – will also be trained to use the technology.

"During surgery, we always want to remove all of the cancer, but until this technology was developed, we couldn't know for sure that we'd gotten it all until pathology tests were done after the procedure," Edmonson says. "Now, we are in the operating room and we are better able to assess whether or not we've gotten clean margins around the cancer and that we are not leaving any cancer behind."

This is important for several reasons: Women may choose lumpectomy to conserve their breast tissue instead of mastectomy which removes the entire breast; and, if the margins are determined not to be clean, a second surgery is needed before radiation to ensure that the cancer is gone.

With MarginProbe, however, there has been a 56-percent reduction in reoperation versus the standard of care.

"Lumpectomy and radiation are as effective in combating breast cancer as mastectomy, but only if there is a clean margin with no remaining cancer cells at the edge of the removed tissue," Edmonson explains. "Unfortunately, the rates of reoperation if there is a positive margin in the breast can be as high as 30 percent."

Using MarginProbe to ensure clean margins in the initial surgery helps reduce emotional distress for the patients, potential for scarring and deformation at the surgery site, and eliminates the increased cost of an additional surgery.

To ensure the clean margins, the surgeon uses the head of the disposable MarginProbe along the edge of the cancer site. The head contains the proprietary Fringe Field Sensor (FFS), which can detect minute differences in bioelectric properties in tissue when the surgeon presses the probe to the specimen. This allows the sensor to capture the tissue's electromagnetic signature, which is either healthy or cancerous. The surgeon runs a series of measurements on each margin, collecting data for the entire specimen. With such real-time results, the surgeon can extend the margins to remove additional tissue if needed.

"This takes three to five minutes but makes a tremendous difference in the results and, ultimately, the patient's satisfaction," Edmonson says.

For more information, go to Breast Health Center at Women & Infants or call (401) 453-7540.

About Women & Infants Hospital

Women & Infants Hospital of Rhode Island, a Care New England hospital, is one of the nation’s leading specialty hospitals for women and newborns. A major teaching affiliate of The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University for obstetrics, gynecology and newborn pediatrics, as well as a number of specialized programs in women’s medicine, Women & Infants is the 12th largest stand-alone obstetrical service in the country and the largest in New England with approximately 8,500 deliveries per year. A Designated Baby-Friendly® USA hospital, U.S.News & World Report 2014-15 Best Children’s Hospital in Neonatology and a 2014 Leapfrog Top Hospital, in 2009 Women & Infants opened what was at the time the country’s largest, single-family room neonatal intensive care unit.

Women & Infants and Brown offer fellowship programs in gynecologic oncology, maternal-fetal medicine, urogynecology and reconstructive pelvic surgery, neonatal-perinatal medicine, pediatric and perinatal pathology, gynecologic pathology and cytopathology, and reproductive endocrinology and infertility. It is home to the nation’s first mother-baby perinatal psychiatric partial hospital, as well as the nation’s only fellowship program in obstetric medicine.

Women & Infants has been designated as a Breast Imaging Center of Excellence by the American College of Radiography; a Center of Excellence in Minimally Invasive Gynecology; a Center of Biomedical Research Excellence by the National Institutes of Health (NIH); and a Neonatal Resource Services Center of Excellence. It is one of the largest and most prestigious research facilities in high risk and normal obstetrics, gynecology and newborn pediatrics in the nation, and is a member of the National Cancer Institute’s Gynecologic Oncology Group and the Pelvic Floor Disorders Network.
Women & Infants Hospital News

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Amy Blustein
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800 Butler Drive
Providence, RI 02906
P: (401) 681-2822 
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