Dr. Misti Wilson knew her calling from the age of 8. It was when her father died of lung cancer and she knew that medicine, and ultimately a career as a surgeon, would be her future. She was drawn to breast surgery due to the unusual, lifetime bond that tends to develop with patients. And she is excited by the fast-moving developments that this field continues to offer.
Dr. Wilson practices at Bon Secours Virginia Breast Center, an organization focused on a whole-health approach to care. The facility provides genetic testing to identify cancer risk early, the surgeons participate in cancer conferences to keep pace with the needs of patients, and a staff that includes breast cancer survivors, combined with a spa-like atmosphere, nurtures patients’ overall sense of well-being.
“I love all the people I work with and I love our program here,” added Dr. Wilson. “I would say on a day-to-day basis, you’re not just dealing with cancer itself, but also the social aspect of it and the support needs of the patient. Each person is different, and we must individualize our efforts. It’s through these efforts that I feel like we give 100% to patients and their families.”
MarginProbe is an essential tool in breast cancer treatment
As part of their whole-person care strategy, Dr. Wilson’s practice uses a new tool, known as MarginProbe, to ensure that a safe margin of tissue is removed around a cancerous tumor as that tumor is removed during surgery. “Safe margins used to be the bane of our existence when performing a lumpectomy,” the surgeon admitted. “Previous techniques such as an analysis of frozen tissue sections or touch preparation took much more time and were not as easy to perform on breast tissue.”
“But MarginProbe has proven itself an excellent tool in reducing the need for re-excision” Dr. Wilson continued. “I’m using it for most of my lumpectomies, and I even have a few patients asking about it now. What I tell patients is that one of the known risks of a lumpectomy is the risk of re-excision or having to go back in at a second surgery and remove additional cancer if it’s detected. So, I mention that there’s this device called MarginProbe that I use directly on the lumpectomy specimen. I tell them it’s not perfect, but here’s how much it reduces their risk of a re-excision, especially compared to just taking extra tissue—tissue that can dramatically impact the appearance of the breast. It helps them feel more comfortable about their surgery.”
Dr. Wilson went on to explain that many surgeons use what’s known as “shave margins,” which remove much more tissue from the breast cavity to try and ensure a safe margin. MarginProbe, by comparison, hones in on the tissue that really needs to be removed to protect margins while maximizing the cosmetic outcomes for the patient.
MarginProbe reduces re-excisions
But MarginProbe also accomplishes this while dramatically reducing the need for additional surgery and ensuring that all cancer is removed. While re-excision rates for most surgeons average typically around 20-25%, Dr. Wilson and her colleagues have seen their re-excision rates plummet to the single digits.
“It really takes no time to use it in the operating room,” added Dr. Wilson. “It reduces re-excisions and it typically reduces the amount of breast tissue we need to remove. It’s really a tool to help me protect a patient’s health while protecting the appearance of her breast as much as possible. And that definitely makes it a strong contributor to our approach to whole person care.”
Dr. Misti Wilson, MD, FACS
- Medical degree from the University of South Alabama College of Medicine, graduating with honors
- General surgery residency at the University of South Florida
- Fellowship in diseases of the breast from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute
- Dr. Misti Wilson is an active member of the American Society of Breast Surgery and the Society of Surgical Oncology.
Bon Secours Virginia Breast Center
This facility treats breast cancer and benign breast disease through the latest surgical techniques and detection technology including digital mammography, breast ultrasound, and needle biopsies.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Dune Medical.