Innovative Procedures Improve Breast Cancer Surgery Outcomes
New services offered by Texas Tech Physicians of El Paso ease surgery for breast cancer patients.
Karinn Chambers, M.D., assistant professor at the Paul L. Foster School of Medicine’s department of surgery, is now certified in Hidden Scar breast cancer surgery.
Dr. Chambers is a surgeon at Texas Tech Physicians of El Paso and medical director of the TTP El Paso Breast Care Center. With the innovative Hidden Scar approach to surgery, certified physicians use different techniques to hide surgical scars associated with breast cancer procedures, while allowing for the best oncological outcomes.
“Becoming certified in Hidden Scar surgery has allowed me to perfect the use of tools in the operating room that allow me to better visualize the internal structures of the breast, so that I can do more work on the inside and have a less-invasive scar on the outside,” Dr. Chambers said.
Dr. Chambers is one of only a few surgeons in West Texas certified in Hidden Scar surgery. She said the scar issue is important to her, even if patients don’t express it as their biggest worry at the time.
“For me, it’s a concern, because this is the scar they’re going to spend the rest of their lives with,” Dr. Chambers said. “It’s a delicate part of the anatomy to deal with. And though women at that time may not feel that the scar is their main concern, in the future it will matter to them. There are a lot of emotional ties to breast health, so if we can maintain our oncological outcomes with a minimal amount of cosmetic effect, that is something we’ll continue to strive to do.”
Wireless breast lesion localization
Dr. Chambers and her team at the Breast Care Center are now offering wireless breast lesion localization, a service that makes the day of the procedure more comfortable for the patient. Traditionally, surgery teams attach guide wires to patients’ breasts so the surgeon can pinpoint the lesion’s location.
“In a lot of institutions across the United States, and what we were doing up until recently, standard of care was to place a clip at the time of biopsy, so we would know where that lesion was no matter how distorted the tissue became after biopsy,” Dr. Chambers said. “We would place a wire to that lesion, so that would be our arrow pointing us in the right direction. Wireless localization allows us to not have patients waiting in the pre-operative area with wires protruding from their breasts.”
With wireless localization, a tiny “seed” is placed within the breast cancer lesion during preoperative planning. On the day of surgery, sonar is used to locate the seed and the area to be removed.
The combination of wireless localization and Hidden Scar techniques can lead to a very positive outlook for the patient.
“Wireless localization shows me where the lesion is, and the Hidden Scar techniques help me strategically place my incision, so the cosmetic outcomes are better,” Dr. Chambers said. “This sonar seed that we’re placing might help me take less tissue as well, helping cosmetic outcomes.”
All treatment at the Breast Care Center is individualized and done to care for the patient in the least traumatic way possible, Dr. Chambers said.
“Not every woman needs a mastectomy; not every woman needs chemotherapy,” Dr. Chambers said. “Every breast cancer treatment is tailored to that person and to that type of cancer, so we can best mesh our patients’ needs with what we need to do to cure their cancer.”