Belén Merck Navarro, Medicine professor at Valencia and Castellón’s CEU UCH university is the only Spaniard among the 17 surgeons from 11 different countries that specialise in breast cancer who took part in a clinical trial on the usefulness of 3D images to evaluate the aesthetic results of conservative surgery in breast cancer. Part of the PICTURE Project, financed by the EU’s H2020 programme, professor Merck was a member of the panel of experts who evaluated the advantages of oblique view and image rotation that 3D images offer, compared to the frontal and lateral images available in 2D, to study conservative surgery in breast cancer cases.
Oblique view and image rotation
As a member of the Delphi panel of experts of this clinical trial carried out by the PICTURE Project team, doctor Merck used the BCCT core software (Breast Cancer Conservative Treatment cosmetic results) in 106 cases, comparing the images obtained of these patients in 2D and 3D, with the latter being taken with 180-degree rotation. Patients who took part in the study had been operated in the United Kingdom’s Free Hospital, Portugal’s Champalimaud Cancer Center and the Dutch Leiden University Medical Center.
As professor Merck highlights, “the BCCT core system makes it possible to add to the frontal and lateral images, views from oblique perspectives while the image rotates, so parameters such as symmetry among the breasts after operating one of them, the resulting scar and its colour or the physical appearance between the operated breast and the healthy one, can be seen and evaluated better than with 2D images.” Even though the study concludes that adding this technology can be costly for the evaluation improvement it enables, “it is an advance that, if the resources are available, would be a recommendable addition for an even better evaluation on behalf of the surgeons.”
Aesthetic result of conservative surgery
The specialists chosen for the study, including the CEU UCH’s professor Merck, evaluated separately the patient’s images following the standardised Harris scale, reaching an evaluation consensus in 99 of the 106 cases studied. Even though from a medical and disease survival standpoint, treating breast cancer with conservative surgery and radiotherapy instead of a mastectomy had shown its efficiency, “from the viewpoint of evaluating the aesthetic result of the intervention, which is very important for the patient’s quality of life, a comprehensive study such as this had not yet been carried out,” highlights professor Merck.
Doctor Belén Merck Navarro is part of the Management Board of the Breast Pathology Section of the Spanish Surgeons Association and the Spanish Association of Breast Cancer Surgeons. Furthermore, she is the only fellow in Valencia and Castellón provinces of the American Society of Surgical Oncology. Before working in the CEU UCH as a professor of the Degree in Medicine, she developed her professional career in the general surgery services of the Hospital Virgen del Castillo in Yecla, the General Universitario in Elche and the Fundación Instituto Valenciano de Oncología.