New Mexico surgeon uses new technology to fight cancer


ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – Nearly 41,000 people will die this year from breast cancer, according to the American Cancer Society. It’s one of the most common cancers with 232,000 new cases each year in the U.S. Many have surgery to remove the tumor, but sometimes cancer is left behind. Now, a New Mexico surgeon is using new technology to try to make sure that doesn’t happen.

The surgery is called a lumpectomy. Doctors remove the tumor while leaving as much of the breast in tact as possible, but sometimes they don’t get it all. In fact, almost one in four lumpectomies is followed by an additional surgery. Yet, Surgical Oncologist Dr. Calvin Ridgeway at Lovelace Women’s Hospital has a better success rate thanks to MarginProbe.

“MarginProbe is a device used to check the edges of the lumpectomy and see if there are any cancer cells at the edge,” Dr. Ridgeway explained.

Without MarginProbe, doctors have to send off a surrounding rim of healthy tissue to a pathologist. That can take days. Plus, different surgeons interpret findings differently, but MarginProbe changes that.

“This technology allows us to check the edge of the lumpectomy specimen at the time of the first operation and decrease the chances of a patient having to come back for a second operation to get more tissue out,” explained Dr. Ridgeway.

The MarginProbe sucks up tissue and then tests it with a radio frequency.

“I don’t know if you remember from high school chemistry when you would have colored solutions and measure the light that passed through them. It’s similar to that,” said Dr. Ridgeway.

If it comes back positive, Dr. Ridgeway then takes more tissue during surgery. He says clinical trials show MarginProbe reduces the need for a second surgery by half. Dr. Ridgeway’s average for a second surgery is nine percent.

Dr. Ridgeway says someday the MarginProbe could be used for other types of cancer, but the technology isn’t there yet.

Right now, there are only about 60 MarginProbes in the United States. Lovelace Women’s Hospital has the only one in New Mexico.

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