I am dedicated to improving quality of life for cancer patients by working to maximize chances of removing the tumor during the first surgery, while preserving as much healthy 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 obtain local control (i.e. removal of the entire tumor 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 information in this respect may lead to inappropriate treatment recommendations (e.g. unnecessary additional surgery, radiation therapy, or chemotherapy). Both in our animal patients and in people, standard-of-care diagnostic methods use microscopic examination of the surgical margins as the primary means to assess for local tumor 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 by providing a more accurate evaluation of tumor excision status.