Using 3D to fine-tune breast cancer surgery and save lives

29 September 2014


An Ottawa scientist has been awarded an Innovation Grant from the Canadian Cancer Society to examine the most accurate way to assess cancer removal after surgery. This first-of-its-kind study could lead to significantly improved outcomes for thousands of women undergoing breast cancer surgery as well as improve surgical practices for other types of cancer.

Recognizing the immediate need for this type of research, the Canadian Cancer Society has partnered with the Lotte and John Hecht Memorial Foundation to co-fund this work.

Dr Angel Arnaout, a surgical oncologist specializing in breast cancer at The Ottawa Hospital and a Clinician Investigator at The Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, has received $130,000 for her study that uses 3D technology to determine the most precise procedure to assess cancer removal after surgery, which could mean less chance of recurrence, fewer repeat surgeries and less stress on patients.

Each year, more than 23,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer in Canada and most will require surgery. During surgery, complete removal of all of the breast cancer which includes a rim of normal tissue around it — a clear margin — is crucial for preventing the recurrence of cancer.

Current methods to assess surgical margins are inconsistent, ambiguous, imprecise and widely varied. Incomplete surgical removal of cancer is the main cause for recurrence in breast cancer. And each year, 25% to 45% of breast cancer patients need additional surgeries to remove more breast tissue because the first surgery wasn’t complete and the tissue was not assessed properly.

Inconsistency in determining margins can result in additional surgeries, higher emotional distress for patients, delays in subsequent therapy and increases in health care costs.

“I am grateful to the Canadian Cancer Society for funding my work and I believe this creative approach to improving breast surgery will not only lead to better quality of life for Canadian breast cancer patients but also improve how we practice surgery for patients with other types of cancer,” says Dr Arnaout.

“We’re committed to investing in innovative research that takes a bold approach to cancer research, to help generate new ways to look at the cancer puzzle and find more effective treatments for patients,” says Dr Siân Bevan, Director of Research, Canadian Cancer Society. “The results of this study could be practice changing and may have enormous implications for patients and the health care system.”

The Society wouldn’t be able to fund innovative research such as this without the generous support of donors. For information about the Society’s fundraising and awareness activities during Breast Cancer Awareness Month, visit

The Canadian Cancer Society (CCS) is the only national charity that supports Canadians with all cancers in communities across the country. No other organization does what we do; we are the voice for Canadians who care about cancer. We fund groundbreaking research, provide a support system for all those affected by cancer and advocate to governments for important social change.

Help us make a difference. Call 1-888-939-3333 or visit today.

For more information, please contact:

Justin Edmonstone

Public Affairs

Canadian Cancer Society

Ontario Division

Phone: 416-323-7026