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Living Well

Are You a Candidate for MarginProbe?

Last updated: Aug 22, 2016

It is stressful enough to undergo a lumpectomy to remove a breast tumor—but for about one-third of all patients, the process is doubly taxing.  This large percentage of women require follow up surgery in order to remove all cancerous cells in the tissue at the outer edge (the “margin”) of a malignant tumor.

What is a Lumpectomy?

A lumpectomy is surgery to remove cancerous tissue from the breast.  A lumpectomy:

  • Is performed after a biopsy has shown that a patient has breast cancer.
  • Is the standard of care for women with early stage breast cancer.
  • Removes some of the breast instead of the entire breast (mastectomy).
  • Is usually followed by radiation therapy to the breast to reduce the chances of cancer returning. (1)

“The goal of a lumpectomy is to remove all of the cancer,” says Winnie Polen, DO, a Fellowship trained Breast Cancer Surgeon at Summit Medical Group’s Breast Care Center. “However, surgeons don’t always see these microscopic cancer cells at the margin of the tumor so in the past they relied on their experience to know how much tissue to remove.”

The MarginProbe System

Now, a breakthrough device—the MarginProbe system—helps to accurately target cancerous cells at the margin of tumors.  The MarginProbe reduces the chance that a patient will have to have another surgery by over 50 percent

How does it work?

  • The MarginProbe includes both a console and a probe.
  • The probe emits a radiofrequency signal that helps identify these cells. 
  • The console analyzes the measurements taken by the probe and displays the readings to the surgeon at the time of the surgery.
  • This information guides the surgeon so that he or she can remove all the malignant tissue.  If one of the margins has tumor cells present, the surgeon will remove more tissue while the patient is asleep assuring that the surgical margin is “clean” or cancer free. This reduces the need for a second surgery.
  • The MarginProbe is used along with other standard methods such as imaging and palpation of the tumor to ensure removal of the breast cancer.

The MarginProbe was approved for use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in December 2012.

 “With the MarginProbe system, surgeons get real-time feedback during a lumpectomy,” explains Polen.  “The probe helps the surgeon determine if all the cancerous tissue has been removed and reduce the need for a second surgery.”

Clinical Trial at SMG

The MarginProbe is now being offered to patients in the latest clinical trial at Summit Medical Group.

What is a clinical trial?

A clinical trial is a research study that:

  • Is one of the final stages of a long and careful process to develop new medical devices, medicines, and treatment strategies.
  • Follows strict scientific standards, which protect patients and help produce reliable study results.
  • Show which medical and surgical approaches work best for specific illnesses and groups of people.
  • Is conducted at multiple sites. (2)

Cutting edge treatment for breast cancer often includes the availability of clinical trials to patients.  Clinical trials are ways that new drugs and medical advices can be tested, and they can be the pipeline to the newest advancements in treatment.

Polen serves as the lead investigator of the MarginProbe trial.  The requirements for enrollment are specific and include:

  • No prior radiation treatment
  • No breast implants
  • No current pregnancy

For more information about enrolling in the MarginProbe clinical trial please schedule a consultation with one of the Breast Surgeons at Summit Medical Group. Visit us online to learn more about cancer treatment at Summit Medical Group’s Breast Care Center.


1. Mayo, Staff Clinic. "Lumpectomy: Why It's Done." Mayo Clinic. Mayo Clinic, 07 Nov. 2014. Web. 15 Aug. 2016.

2. NIH Staff. "What Are Clinical Trials?" - NHLBI, NIH. NIH, 04 May 2013. Web. 15 Aug. 2016.

3. Interview with Winnie Polan, DO.  August 8, 2015