Advanced care for patients with breast cancer

Thanks to donor support, patients receiving breast cancer care at Guelph General Hospital are benefiting from new equipment in the operating room.

It’s an intraoperative specimen mammography machine and it’s enabling physicians to improve the accuracy of diagnosis and selection of treatment plans.

When breast cancer tissue is removed in surgery, whether during a biopsy to diagnose, or during surgical treatment to remove cancerous tissue, a two-step analysis of the tissue is essential to inform further medical decisions and actions.

The first step is for the tissue to be imaged and the second step is laboratory analysis. For the most accurate information, it is critical to minimize the time between tissue removal and lab analysis.

The new machine allows surgeons to instantly x-ray the breast tissue within the operating room. From the operating room, the tissue sample is taken directly to the laboratory for immediate analysis.

Prior to the advent of this new equipment, a porter would run the breast tissue first to the Hospital’s diagnostic imaging department, wait for the imaging to be completed, and then run the tissue sample to the laboratory.

“This piece of equipment is so valuable for surgeons and patients alike. It allows us to provide state-of-the-art treatment for patients who could be you, your friend, or a family member. We’re so grateful.” — Dr. Leigh Bishop, General Surgeon and Chief of Surgery at Guelph General Hospital

Ensuring that patients with breast cancer receive the most accurate diagnosis and treatment possible is by far the most significant benefit. However, there are secondary benefits that can also make a big difference. Often the breast surgery cannot be completed until the x-ray results from diagnostic imaging are returned to the operating room. Reducing time in surgery and under anesthesia is better for patient safety and recovery.

This creates efficiencies that positively impact other patients at the Hospital when a porter’s time is freed up by imaging breast tissue samples within the operating room. Porters are essential in maintaining patient flow by running numerous and varied errands to support of physicians and nurses and now have increased time for other work.

We are so grateful for the donors who helped bring this essential patient care technology to our Hospital.