Implant acts like GPS after cancer surgery

Saturday, February 4, 2017
Implant acts like GPS after cancer surgery
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A new implant could make for a huge breakthrough in the detection and treatment of cancer.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Sue Yeres has been a breast cancer activist for decades, but last year, tests revealed she was also a victim.

"We decided to do a little bit more exploration, only to discover I had cancer in both breasts," says Yeres.

Anne Peled, M.D., a surgeon at California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco, mapped out a plan to remove the tumors and mask the damage.

"So, trying to refill the cavity where the tumor came out so you don't leave a defect and get better cosmetic outcomes," explains Dr. Peled.

But during that breast reconstruction, Dr. Peled also implanted Sue with a powerful weapon to help doctors knock out any remaining cancer. The device known as Biozorb is a spring like scaffold with tiny titanium clips that act as a kind of post cancer GPS system.

"You can see this plastic part is the part is the part what will dissolve over time and then these titanium clips here are what is going remain in," says Dr. Peled showing off the device.

In a surgery at California Pacific Medical Center, Dr. Peled removes the tumor from the breast, then places the Biozorb into the cavity area, before rebuilding the tissue around it. When the breast heals, and the scaffold dissolves, the titanium clips are locked into place. And in the months after surgery they'll provide a visible target for radiologists.

"The inner circle represents the marker that's in place and that's the area we have to treat," says radiation oncologist John Lee, M.D.

Lee says the titanium clips form a clear outline on their target imaging. Allowing his team to more precisely to control the powerful doses of radiation.

"It allows us to focus the radiation exactly at where the tumor originally was but at the same time avoid the structures like the heart the lungs the ribs that are next to it that might be damaged," explains Dr. Lee.

In Sue Yeres' case, the target imaging was so clear, she was actually able to skip follow-up scans and begin her radiation earlier. Leading to the result she'd hoped for.

"I am now cancer free! Absolutely," she says smiling.

Doctors also say the pins are also clearly visible on follow-up mammograms and stay anchored to the tumor area even as patients age and their bodies change.

Written and produced by Tim Didion.