Heidi Hadubiak with her daughters
When Heidi Hadubiak underwent a lumpectomy at the Misericordia Community Hospital earlier this year, she was grateful her oncoplastic and reconstructive breast surgeon, Dr. Lashan Peiris, was able to check, while still in the operating room, that he had successfully removed the cancerous cells from her breast.
“The peace of mind of knowing that my body was cancer-free at that moment was priceless,” says Heidi, 43.
Lashan made the diagnosis using a Faxitron® Trident® high-definition specimen radiography system, which was purchased for breast cancer surgery at the Misericordia with a $150,000 gift from The Dianne and Irving Kipnes Foundation to the Covenant Foundation. The purchase came on the heels of recruiting Dr. Nikoo Rajaee, who had used the machine in Ontario, to the Misericordia’s oncoplastic program last year.
“Thanks to the outstanding generosity of The Dianne and Irving Kipnes Foundation, we’re able to invest in leading-edge equipment such as the Faxitron, which helps to ensure safer, faster and more precise surgeries for breast cancer patients at the Misericordia,” says Tracy Sopkow, CEO of the Covenant Foundation. “We’re proud and grateful to partner with our donors to improve health outcomes for patients and their families who rely on the Misericordia as a centre of excellence for breast cancer treatment in Western Canada.”
More breast cancer surgeries are performed at the Misericordia — about 1,500 every year — than at any other hospital in northern Alberta. Lashan, Nikoo and their colleagues use the Faxitron machine in the operating room during lumpectomies and for patients who’ve had chemotherapy to quickly assess whether they’ve removed all the cancerous cells or to pinpoint the location of tumours that have shrunk.
Before having the Faxitron machine, surgeons at the Misericordia relied on pathologists to come to the operating room to slice the specimen and “eyeball it,” says Lashan. With the Faxitron, surgeons can detect additional lumps in the tissue that aren’t visible to the naked eye or can’t be felt, such as tiny spots of calcification.
“It makes breast surgery much more efficient and efficacious,” says Nikoo.
In Heidi’s case, the imaging revealed additional cancerous specks in her lumpectomy specimen, prompting Lashan to remove an extra piece of tissue. That meant Heidi didn’t have to have a second surgery in that part of her breast at a later date, which would have created more anxiety for her and her family and prolonged her recovery.
“Being able to recover and have that leg of the journey done is really important from a quality-of-life perspective,” says Heidi.
By reducing the need for repeat surgeries, use of the machine has lessened the strain on the hospital’s operating room space and resources, says Carol Price, program manager, operating room and Faxitron project lead. And access to quick imaging has shortened surgery times, leading to patients spending less time under anesthesia and decreasing risks.
“It really has improved workflow efficiencies and led to reduced costs, as well,” says Carol.
Research also suggests that patients get a better cosmetic outcome as a result of use of the machine. A hospital in the United Kingdom has reported that the weight of their lumpectomy specimens decreased after surgeons began using the Faxitron, says Lashan.
“They were being more conservative with their lumpectomies. What that means is that they were actually giving patients a better cosmetic outcome because obviously the more breast tissue you take out, the worse the cosmetic outcome. If we can reduce some breast weight generally without compromising the cancer surgery, it contributes to the patients’ long-term quality of life as well. The indirect and direct effects of this machine are huge.”
Written by: Marguerite Watson
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