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B. A New Tool May Help Surgeons Know Their Boundaries

Narrator: This is Science Today. As more women with breast cancer opt to have less invasive surgery to treat their cancer, it's become more important for surgeons to clearly define the boundaries of tumor tissue. Dr. Laura Esserman, director of the Breast Care Center at the University of California, San Francisco, says knowing these boundaries may lessen the potential for repeated surgeries.

Esserman: Cancers grow sometimes as a hard mass and sometimes around that mass are microscopic areas of the tumor that just kind of...are sneaky and get into the tissue but you can't feel them and you don't know that the tumor is at the rim of the surgery specimen until the pathologist looks at it.

Narrator: Esserman says a pre-operative MRI scan may be the tool surgeons can use to define boundaries with more assurance.

Esserman: It can help you prepare your surgery, meaning you take just the right amount....not too much, not to little.

Narrator: Esserman estimates it may take about two years to refine this MRI technique before it's widely used. For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.