Ultrasound-guided surgery to remove breast cancer tumors offers a significant improvement over standard operations procedures, a new study finds.
In a report to the Eighth European Breast Cancer Conference, researchers said ultrasound improves surgeons’ ability to remove all the cancerous tissue while sparing as much healthy tissue as possible.
The researchers said they expect their findings will change surgical practices and ultrasound-guided surgery will become the standard method for breast-sparing operations to remove tumors.
For the study – led by Dr. Nicole Krekel of the VU University Medical Center in Amsterdam – researchers tracked the experiences of 124 patients with early stage breast cancer. About half of the patients underwent ultrasound-aided surgery to remove tumors; the other half had standard operations.
Researchers found that only 3.3 percent of the ultrasound-surgery patients needed follow-up operations, radiation or other treatment to remove cancerous cells missed by the first procedure. That compared with 16.4 percent of the women who had standard surgery.
In addition, the amount of healthy breast tissue removed from women who underwent ultrasound-aided surgery was smaller than in the women who had standard operations.
"The trial was only completed in February this year and the results are striking,” researchers concluded. “By using [ultrasound], 96.7 percent of all tumors were excised with adequate, tumor-free margins, compared with only 83.4 percent in the [standard surgery] group, yet the volume of tissue excised was significantly smaller in the [first] group.”