Local Surgeon Leads Research on New Breast Cancer Treatment

In In The News by Barbara Jacoby

Surgical Marker Makes Cancer Radiation Treatment More Precise and Improves Cosmetic Results

Local breast surgeon Cary Kaufman, M.D. recently presented at two prestigious medical conferences, on a groundbreaking innovation that improves the treatment of breast cancer.

Kaufman’s research shows how a three-dimensional surgical marker called BioZorbTM, which is inserted into the breast at the time of tumor removal, provides better targeting for planning and delivery of radiation. This helps to protect healthy tissues such as the heart and lungs from inadvertently receiving unnecessary radiation.

“Before this device was available, radiation oncologists often had to radiate areas beyond the actual surgical site, just to make sure the site was covered,” Dr. Kaufman said. “With this new marker, we know exactly where to aim the radiation, and we are also seeing excellent cosmetic results.”

Dr. Kaufman is Medical Director of the Bellingham Regional Breast Center and a nationally recognized expert on the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer.

At the recent 25th Annual Interdisciplinary Breast Cancer Conference held by the National Consortium of Breast Centers (NCBC), Dr. Kaufman presented a scientific poster that described research he led on BioZorb. The results included:

  • The marker provided a direct method of communication between the surgeon and radiation oncologist as to the “real” target region
  • No device-related complications
  • Good cosmetic results
  • Excellent patient satisfaction

BioZorb is a small coil that holds six tiny clips arranged in a precise three-dimensional array. This 3D array remains in a stable position, while the coil holding the clips is absorbed by the body over time. Precise marking of the tumor bed makes it easier to do follow-up exams using routine mammograms, as well.

Dr. Kaufman also was part of the program at the recent Society of Surgical Oncology (SSO) 2015 Annual Cancer Symposium. At this conference, he presented a video showing surgeons how to place the BioZorb marker during lumpectomy surgery.

Breast cancer can be treated by mastectomy (breast removal) or by lumpectomy. With the latter, a small amount of tissue containing the tumor is removed. In addition to the surgery, it is usually important to add radiation treatment to “clean up” any microscopic cancer cells that might remain behind in the breast.

Before the BioZorb marker was developed, radiation oncologists typically aimed their radiation at a pocket of fluid, known as seroma that forms at the surgical site after tumor removal.

“The problem with the seroma method is that it is not precise,” said Dr. Kaufman. “Seroma may not be the exact shape or in the same location as the tumor. So using the seroma as a marker can lead to treating a bigger area than the actual site of the removed tumor, which is the only area that really needs it. This device also improves cosmetic results, by helping to fill the area where tissue was removed.”

Dr. Kaufman is immediate past chairman of the National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers. He is a past president of the National Consortium of Breast Centers. He has published more than 50 articles on breast care and breast cancer diagnosis and treatment.

About Bellingham Regional Breast Center

The Bellingham Regional Breast Center provides comprehensive diagnosis and treatment for all breast disorders. Services include early diagnosis; risk analysis with genetic counseling and testing; treatment with surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, endocrine therapy, targeted therapies, and immune therapy; and supportive care including counseling, physical therapy, and lymphatic massage. Because of its expertise and state-of-the-art breast care, the center serves patients throughout the region from north of Seattle to lower British Columbia