LITTLE ROCK – A breast cancer treatment developed by University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) surgeon V. Suzanne Klimberg, M.D., has been shown in a clinical trial to reduce the need for repeat surgery following lumpectomy by 86 percent.
Klimberg, director of the breast cancer program at UAMS’ Arkansas Cancer Research Center, is the principal investigator of a multiphase clinical trial for the new procedure called Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA)-Assisted Lumpectomy. The findings of the study were presented recently at the American College of Surgeons 91st Annual Clinical Congress in San Francisco.
The RFA procedure, which sears a one-centimeter margin, or perimeter, of soft tissue following standard lumpectomy removal of a breast tumor, is intended to give the patient a cancer-free area around the site where the tumor has been removed so that a second surgery in the area around the lumpectomy and/or radiation therapy are unnecessary. Currently, about 40 percent of patients require a second surgery to remove additional malignant tissue.
UAMS is the first hospital to use RFA-assisted lumpectomy to treat breast cancer. Klimberg’s recently concluded trial involved 25 breast cancer patients.
Klimberg is chief of the Division of Breast Surgical Oncology at UAMS and a professor in the Departments of Surgery and Pathology. She is a staff physician in the Women’s Oncology Service at the Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System as well as director of Breast Fellowship in Diseases of the Breast.
The RFA-assisted lumpectomy begins with standard removal of the tumor. Then, an RFA probe is inserted and heated to 100 degrees for 15 minutes, creating a one centimeter zone of dead tissue around the cavity.
“Since 90 percent of local breast cancer recurrences are at the site of the original tumor, the RFA procedure gives women added assurance that they will not need a second surgery to remove cancer at the same site,” Klimberg said. “The success of this procedure is important not only for UAMS, but for every woman who experiences breast cancer and every doctor who treats it.”
Of the 150,000-200,000 patients who undergo lumpectomies each year, about 25 percent refuse or are unable to receive follow-up radiation treatment. Through the use of RFA, the area around the lumpectomy cavity is eradiated during surgery.
“With the use of RFA, we are more successful in eliminating the cancer during the first surgery. We also can prevent the need for a second surgery, reduce or eliminate the need for additional radiation treatment and improve the cosmetic result,” Klimberg said. “Ultimately, any patient eligible for lumpectomy may be eligible for treatment with breast-sparing RFA.”
Other UAMS physicians and staff participating in the study were Soheila Korourian, M.D., associate professor, Department of Pathology; Julie A. Kepple, M.D., oncology fellow; Ronda S. Henry-Tillman, M.D., associate professor of surgery and director of the UAMS Cancer Control Department; Aaron Margulies, instructor of surgery and second-year Breast Fellow; Laura L. Adkins, project program specialist; Scott Ferguson, laser safety officer; and G. Shafirstein, Ph.D., assistant professor, Department of Otolaryngology/Head and Neck Surgery.