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  • March 19, 2015

Innovative Approach to Breast Cancer Treatment Being Pioneered

Local breast surgeon Michael Cross, M.D., F.A.C.S., North Hills Surgery Center and Highlands Oncology Group havepioneered a groundbreaking innovation that can be used during treatment of breast cancer.

A new bioabsorbable surgical marker called BioZorb is inserted into the breast by the surgeon at the time of tumor removal. Dr. Cross is one of the leading researchers in the world to demonstrate the effectiveness of thisunique device.

“This small, three-dimensional tissue marker provides a target for aimingradiation therapy precisely at the tumor site, which helps minimize any damage to remaining healthy tissue including the heart and lungs,” said Dr. Cross. “For patients who want breast-conserving treatment and a very good cosmetic outcome, this approach is an excellent option.”

Dr. Cross and North Hills Surgery Centerwere the first team in the U.S. to pioneer use of the FDA-cleared BioZorb device during surgery. Dr. Crosshas now treated over 100 patients using the surgical marker as part of the procedure.

Breast cancer can be treated by mastectomy (breast removal) or by lumpectomy. With lumpectomy,a small amount of tissue containing the tumor is removed. In addition to the surgery, it is important to add radiation treatment to “clean up” any microscopic cancer cells that might remain behind in the breast. The addition of radiation allows surgeons to safely conserve the breast tissue, while decreasing the chances of cancer recurring in the same location.

“During radiation treatment, the BioZorb marker provides much needed identification of the site where the cancer was,” said Dr. Arnold Smith, radiation oncologist at Highlands Oncology Group. “The marker more clearly defines the treatment area. That means we can even more confidently focus treatments that previously needed larger volumes to account for positioning uncertainty.”

Prior to the development of the surgical marker, radiation treatments usually had to be directed at the entire breast. “Now, because we can do a better job of directing the radiation exactly where the tumor is, we are able to safely reduce the amount of breast tissue receiving radiation,” Dr. Cross said.

“In over 51% of our patients, the total treatment time was significantly decreased as well. What used to take six weeks of radiation now can be delivered accurately in four weeks,” he said. “There’s no doubt that this is just the beginning of a major improvement in how radiation will be used in breast cancer treatment. What I love about BioZorb is its simplicity. It fits right into our routine, and we’ve seen the benefits in our patients.”

BioZorb is a small coil that holds six tiny clips arranged in a precise three-dimensional array. This 3D array remains over time, while the coil holding the clips dissolves. The precise marking of the tumor bed also makes it easier to do followup exams using routine mammograms.

One Patient’s Story

Kathey Rhoads has been familiar with cancer treatment for many years, having worked at Highlands Oncology Group since 1996. Even though Rhoads oversees the oncology center as its COO, she said, “I was one of those people who thought they would never get cancer themselves.” But when she found a lump in her right breast shortly after she was remarried in July 2012, a biopsyconfirmed that she had breast cancer.

She was familiar with Dr. Cross’s work and immediately chose him as her surgeon. After taking medication to reduce the size of the tumor, she had surgery at North Hills Surgery Center in November 2012.

Rhoads, who’s now 56, was one of the first patients in the world to receive BioZorb as part of her treatment, and she’s very happy with the cosmetic outcome. One advantage of the device is that it helps retain the natural shapeof the breast after surgery, by making it easier for surgeons to avoid the “dimpling” effect that can sometimes result from older lumpectomy techniques.

Rhoads also felt good about her role in helping to demonstrate the value of the new surgical marker. “As part of a medical oncology practice, I know how important new procedures are,” she said. “Unless we have participants willing to use the new technology, we can’t learn what the benefits are going to be.”

Dr. Cross has presented hisresearch findings at several scientific conferences, summarizing his clinical experiences with the BioZorb device. The most recent report on 65 caseswas presented at the 18th SIS World Congress on Breast Healthcare, Oct. 16-19, 2014 in Orlando, Fla.

Thanks to women like Rhoads and physicians like Dr. Cross, this improvement in breast cancer treatment is being made available to many more women. “The ultimate goal with breast cancer treatment is to have the breast look like it did before treatment. Sometimes that’s not as easy as it seems,” said Dr. Cross. “Now, in many cases, we have found that result is actually achievable.”

About North Hills Surgery Center

North Hills Surgery Center is a multispecialty practice in Fayetteville founded in 1998. It has approximately 50 physicians on staff and is affiliated with Washington Regional Medical Center. Designed for comfort, convenience and privacy, North Hills is dedicated to providing the highest quality healthcare in Northwest Arkansas. For more information, call (479) 713-6100 or visit www.nhscnwa.com.

About Highlands Oncology Group

Highlands Oncology Group was formed in 1996 and has clinics in FayettevilleandRogers. The group’s mission is to provide comprehensive cancer care ensuring patient access tothe latest, most advanced technologies and research available. Patient education and patient support groups are some of the support services offered at Highlands Oncology Group as well as research through clinical trials. For more information, call (479) 587-1700 or visit www.highlandsoncologygroup.com.


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Dr. Cross Reports Positive Findings from Use of 3D Marker in Breast Cancer Treatment

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – A research study by local surgical oncologist Michael Cross, M.D., F.A.C.S., concluded that use of the BioZorb® surgical marker appears to provide better cosmetic outcomes and may be associated with an increased use of breast-conserving surgery in his practice. The study found that more than 90% of patients who received the implant […]

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