Dartmouth-Hitchcock Norris Cotton Cancer Center: Leaders in Surgical Innovation

(Left to right) Co-founders of CairnSurgical, Inc: Richard J. Barth, Jr., MD, surgical oncologist; and Keith Paulsen, PhD, and Venkat Krishnaswamy, PhD, biomedical engineers from Dartmouth’s Thayer School of Engineering

Q: What is the newest innovation in breast cancer surgical therapy?

A: A major problem in breast cancer surgery is that there may be cancer at the edge of the lumpectomy specimen, requiring a second surgery to remove completely. We’ve been developing a device that improves surgical accuracy, reducing the need for second surgeries and better preserving breast shape after lumpectomy.

The Breast Cancer Locator (BCL) is a bra-like plastic form specially made for each patient using 3-D printing technology. The surgeon places the BCL on the patient’s breast at the start of surgery to guide insertion of wires into the breast that mark the edges of the cancer. The BCL transmits to the surgeon information about tumor location and a three-dimensional picture of the cancer that shows the precise distance of the cancer from the skin surface and from the underlying chest wall.

Using the BCL, we effectively removed the cancer with negative margins in all 20 of the patients enrolled in clinical trials at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Norris Cotton Cancer Center.

We plan to expand BCL clinical trials to other institutions to compare its effectiveness against standard lumpectomy techniques. Initial results show promise that use of the BCL will improve breast surgery precision and greatly reduce the need for second surgeries.


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