Device helps breast cancer patients after surgery

In In The News by Barbara Jacoby

By:  Emily Linnert


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — What looks like a small spiral of plastic has become a valuable tool for radiologists, oncologists and surgeons in the fight against breast cancer.

Barbara Harvey has had an incredibly optimistic outlook when it comes to her fight with breast cancer.

“When we all hear the ‘c’ word, we kind of panic, and I’m a firm believer of one day at a time,” she said.

In June 2017, she went for her annual mammogram — something she says she has done religiously.

“By the time I got home, they were calling me saying I needed to get in for another appointment for another mammogram,” Harvey said.

Within a month, she was under the knife of surgeon Dr. Jamie Caughran at Mercy Health Lacks Cancer Center in Grand Rapids. Caughran used a device called a BioZorb, which was designed to help maintain the natural shape of the breast by taking the place of the tissue removed during a lumpectomy.

“For breast surgeons like myself and my partner, it’s been really exciting to have an alternative to offer women to help fill the space of tissue when we remove a specimen,” Caughran said.

Made of suture material, not plastic, the BioZorb lives up to its name and absorbs into the body after about 18 months.

Lacks Cancer Center was the first in West Michigan to implement use of the BioZorb. Caughran, who has been using it for about two years, says it’s one of the best surgical advances she has seen in a long time.

“This is something we’ve always kind of dreamed about,” she said.

Surgeons aren’t the only ones using the BioZorb.

“There are little clips embedded in it that gives the radiation oncologist a three-dimensional target to make their radiation planning more accurate and safe,” Caughran explained.

It has been a year since Harvey’s surgery and she said she’s happy with the results she got from the BioZorb. She also feels blessed with good doctors and friends who stood by her.

“I have the best of a bad thing,” Harvey said