Technological Advancements in the Surgical Treatment of Breast Cancer
Breast cancer is
the most common malignancy in North America and Europe,with more than
200,000 cases of breast cancer diagnosed in the United States in 2001.
Researchers and physicians are pushing the forefront of science to
discover innovative ways and advancements in treating breast cancer.
Two of the latest surgical technologies include lumpectomy with a
sentinel node biopsy and skin-sparing mastectomy.
A lumpectomy involves
the surgical removal of a cancerous lump (or tumor) in the breast
in addition to a small percentage of the surrounding noncancerous
breast tissue. Lumpectomy, a type of breast conserving therapy, is
an option for women with small or localized breast cancers since it
enables the patient to maintain a large percentage of their breast
after surgery. The lumpectomy must be followed up with radiation treatment
to ensure that any remaining cancer cells are destroyed in addition
to being a preventative measure against any recurring cancer cells.
In addition to the lumpectomy, a sentinel
node biopsy is performed. “The theory is if you can find
the main draining lymph node, remove it and
have it tested very carefully, it will be representative of all
lymph nodes,” says Dr.
Dahlia Sataloff. This means instead of having to remove
two thirds of a patient's lymph nodes, the removal of only one is
necessary. As a result, the patient is less likely to experience lymphedema,
a common side effect involving swelling of
or removal of the entire breast tissue, muscle and skin, once considered
the main treatment option for breast cancer patients are rarely performed
today. Today, the most common form of mastectomy is the modified radical
mastectomy where the entire breast, nipple/areolar region and axillary
lymph nodes are removed or a total mastectomy and sentinel node biopsy.
Breast reconstruction is often a possibility for the majority of
breast cancer patients following a mastectomy. If the patient chooses,
a plastic surgeon would be available at the time of mastectomy to
perform breast reconstructive surgery. If the patient is an appropriate
candidate, skin-sparing mastectomy can be performed
With this procedure,“Most of the skin is spared, leaving an
envelope of skin in which the breast can be reconstructed to look
almost indistinguishable from a normal breast,” says Dr. Sataloff.
For the breast cancer patient this procedure provides an alternative
that did not exist ten years ago.
Comprehensive Care For Our Patients
The Joan Karnell Cancer Center offers progressive,
comprehensive care for numerous forms of cancer. Our physicians,
nurses and staff are extremely knowledgeable about cancer prevention,
education, screening, research, diagnosis, treatment and support.
To ensure optimal treatment, the Cancer Center has several distinct
groups of clinicians who review all cases in
which a tumor has been diagnosed. One of these groups is The Breast
Cancer Tumor Board. This Board is a weekly multi-disciplinary conference
to discuss all recent cases of breast cancer at the Joan Karnell Cancer
The Board consists of medical oncologists, radiation oncologists,
surgeons, radiologists, pathologists, oncologic
nursing staff, residents and medical students. The Board reviews each
new case and then treatment and trial options are discussed. Not only
is this an educational tool for the group but this professional collaboration
also enables the physician to determine the best
course of treatment for the patient.
For more information about the latest surgical advancements for the
treatment of breast cancer at the Joan Karnell
Cancer Center at Pennsylvania Hospital, call
1-800-789-PENN (7366). You can also request
an appointment online.