Tracking Nonpalpable Breast Cancer for Breast-conserving Surgery With Carbon Nanoparticles: Implication in Tumor Location and Lymph Node Dissection

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To examine the feasibility of using carbon nanoparticles to track nonpalpable breast cancer for breast-conserving surgery.

During breast-conserving surgery, it is often very challenging to determine the boundary of tumor and identify involved lymph nodes. Currently used methods are useful in identifying tumor location, but do not provide direct visual guidance for resection margin during surgery.

The study was approved by the Institutional Review Board of the Fuzhou General Hospital (Fuzhou, China). The current retrospective analysis included 16 patients with nonpalpable breast cancer receiving breast-conserving surgery under the guidance of preoperative marking using a carbon nanoparticle, as well as 3 patients receiving carbon nanoparticle marking followed by neoadjuvant treatment and then breast-conserving surgery. The Tumor Node Metastasis stage in the 16 cases included: T1N0M0 in 7, T1N1M0 in 2, T2N0M0 in 4, and T2N1M0 in the remaining 3 cases. The nanoparticle was injected at 12 sites at 0.5 cm away from the apparent edge under colored ultrasonography along 6 tracks separated by 60 degrees (2 sites every track). Lymph node status was also examined.

The resection edge was free from cancer cells in all 16 cases (and the 3 cases with neoadjuvant treatment). Cancer cells were identified in majority of stained lymph nodes, but not in any of the unstained lymph nodes. No recurrence or metastasis was noticed after the surgery (2 to 22-month follow-up; median: 6 months).

Tracking nonpalpable breast cancer with carbon nanoparticle could guide breast-conserving surgery.

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