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The surgeon's sense of touch

Updated: Jun 18, 2020

Could a high resolution, hand-held probe be the key to identifying all possible cancerous breast tissue during surgery?

This amazing idea is currently being developed by University of Western Australia’s Bio imaging Research and Innovation for Translational Engineering Lab (BRITELab), based at the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research

The proposed probe will work to translate the surgeon’s sense of touch into small, high-resolution images, enabling them to more accurately and effectively identify and remove tumours during breast-conserving surgery.

Breast cancer accounts for 28% of all cancers diagnosed in women, with about 15,000 women and 120 men diagnosed in Australia each year. About 60-80% of women with early-stage cancer will undergo breast-conserving surgery.

As breast tumour tissue is typically stiffer than surrounding tissue, surgeons rely on their sense of touch or their eyesight to identify cancer tissue during surgery. In 20-30% of cases, some cancer tissue is undetected and left behind and patients will require repeat surgery.

For patients, this means further pain, anxiety and expense. There is also added financial burden on the health care system.

This amazing technology will work to improve success rates of initial surgeries, decreasing the need, and associated emotional and financial costs, of ongoing surgical treatments.

Want to learn more? Head to The Surgeon's Sense of Touch to view the article in full.

We thank The University of Western Australia for contributing this article and video. We acknowledge that the content has not been altered from the original intent of the author.

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