I am dedicated to improving quality of life for cancer patients by working to maximize chances of removing all of the cancer during the first surgery, while preserving as much healthy patient tissue as possible.
My research focus involves studying the challenges associated with treating locally invasive tumors, a large component of which is how surgical margins are assessed. Such tumors are typically treated via surgical resection of the mass with a margin of tissue around it, in an attempt to achieve local control (i.e. removal of all cancerous tissue from the patient). Accurately and reliably determining whether or not a surgical procedure has successfully achieved local tumor control is paramount to appropriate patient management, as incorrect diagnostics in this regard may result in inappropriate treatment recommendations (e.g. needless additional surgery, radiation therapy, or chemotherapy). Both in our animal patients and in people, the widespread accepted "gold-standard" diagnostic methods use microscopic examination of the surgical margins as the primary means to assess for local control. These methods have inherent limitations that my collaborators and I are working to identify, reduce/eliminate, and develop new methods to supplement established protocols. Our research efforts will ultimately result in better patient care by allowing surgeons to spare patient tissues that do not need to be removed and providing more accurate assessment of whether or not further treatment is recommended based on improved evaluation of local tumor control.