Students' Device Aims to Avert Repeated Breast Cancer Surgeries

When a breast tumor is detected, many women opt to have a lumpectomy - surgery to remove the diseased tissue while preserving the breast. During this procedure, doctors cannot learn right away whether all of the cancerous tissue has been removed. Because of this delay, one in five of these women must return for a second surgery to remove remaining cancer. These follow-up operations increase healthcare costs and can lead to delays in receiving other treatments like radiation and chemotherapy. Four Johns Hopkins University graduate students have designed a device to allow pathologists to quickly inspect excised breast tissue within 20 minutes, while the patient is still in the operating room. If this inspection indicates that the tumor was not fully removed, additional tissue can then be removed during the same operation. The low-cost prototype system includes a reusable applicator and a proprietary disposable film.