Breast Surgeon Makes Bold Prediction: Someday We Will No Longer Need Surgery to Fight Cancer

Image courtesy of Coordinated Health

Dr. Chand Rohatgi has a passion for fighting cancer. His distinguished career as a breast surgeon includes over 20 years working with the American Cancer Society. “I first started working with the American Cancer Society as a volunteer while still in residency,” the physician explained. “It was also around the time of my residency that I became very impressed with surgical oncology. So just out of my passion and my interest, I defined for myself a pathway to breast surgery. I would seek out opportunities to learn, to go to breast and cancer-related conferences. Even as a resident, I took part in the pivotal national trial for sentinel lymph node biopsy as a treatment for breast cancer.”

“From there on, my path was defined and I was able to bring not only sentinel lymph node biopsy techniques into my hospital, but subsequently many, many improvements which were strongly needed,” Dr. Rohatgi continued. “I started using genomics in my practice as soon as they came out. I’m also now incorporating wire-free lumpectomies. Traditionally the lumpectomies have been done with a wire localization to guide the removal of the tumor. But now there is a trend all over the country to use wire-free technology by insertion of a marker, which can be localized by other means like laser or radiofrequency. And I’m including hidden scar surgery that will lead to better outcomes for these patients.”

A future without surgery?

“One thing which I have always believed in is ultimately eliminating the need to do any disfiguring surgery at all,” Dr. Rohatgi explained. “After making the initial diagnosis of breast cancer very early, by using methods of imaging, we should be testing the genomics of the cancer and then destroying it with new medical technology or drugs tailored for that kind of cancer, thereby eliminating the need for surgical incisions.” 

While that ideal state is still not yet realized, about two years ago Dr. Rohatgi was introduced to a technology that would make the need for multiple surgeries for breast cancer lumpectomies almost “a non-entity” according to the physician. “I saw that it had potential and I tried to bring it to the hospital I was with at the time, but it was too early for them to adopt the technology,” he added.

But Dr. Rohatgi had the opportunity to join another organization – Coordinated Health, an integrated healthcare network with locations throughout eastern Pennsylvania and western New Jersey. They believed in him and the results that he could achieve with this device, known as MarginProbe. MarginProbe is used during an operation to help verify that all cancerous cells have been safely removed. It detects what’s known as a safe margin so that additional surgeries, known as re-excisions, can be avoided to protect patients’ health, their emotional state from the stress of extra surgeries and the appearance of the breast overall.

MarginProbe® reduces the need for damaging additional surgeries

“While my re-excision rate was not as high as what’s quoted in the medical literature, in my mind, nobody should have to go back for another surgery,” the physician stated. “On my own, I had thought up some very creative techniques to get every cancer cell out, but this tool is a much more realistic and practical close second, and I have found it to be clinically very useful.”

In his very first case using MarginProbe, Dr. Rohatgi detected two positive margins to the right of the original surgical site that he was able to remove during the same lumpectomy procedure. “I performed the initial lumpectomy in a way to provide minimal scarring, but the problem is that if I had to go back for a second surgery, the cosmetic results will likely not hold. Now, the patient does not need to have another surgery, which in this case very well may have been a full mastectomy because of the deformity caused by the original surgery. This meant that less damage occurred to the breast while the patient’s cancer was safely removed. The ability to avoid further disfiguring surgery or a potential mastectomy is just amazing, especially from the patient’s perspective.”

“From now on, I’m going to use MarginProbe on all of my lumpectomy cases,” the Coordinated Health surgeon shared. “Somehow we have been losing control of how to use new technology to better the lives of patients and their care. That has been our battle and I think it is becoming more pronounced. If you look at the cost of two surgeries versus the cost of MarginProbe, it’s hands down much, much better. So we must make this investment for the care of the patients. Someday, hopefully, I would like to be out of a job in a way, and that’s something I will consider a good thing.”

Chand Rohatgi, MD

  • Breast and general surgeon with Coordinated Health
  • Specialties included biopsies, stereotactics, genetics, genomics, lymphedema treatment and advances in radiation
  • Served on teaching faculty for 20 years at Drexel University
  • Member of the State Theatre board and a volunteer for the American Cancer Society
  • Dr. Rohatgi is a liaison for the Cancer Commission and has conducted missionary work in South Africa
  • Education: Medical Doctorate, Institute of Medical Sciences, Banaras Hindu University in Varanasi, India

Coordinated Health

Coordinated Health is an integrated healthcare network with locations throughout eastern Pennsylvania and western New Jersey. The company employs more than 1,300 highly skilled personnel across 18 multi-specialty medical campuses, including two hospitals, two ambulatory surgical centers, six walk-in care on demand centers and six orthopedic injury centers.