In 2003, Dr. Claire Temple, a young plastic surgeon in London began using a surgical technique known as Mohs micrographic surgery to effectively cure basal cell skin cancer. Mohs is a very precise surgical technique where layers of cancer-containing skin are progressively removed and examined, in real time, until only cancer-free tissue remains.
The goal is to remove the cancer with the least possible damage to surrounding healthy tissue. This is doubly important when the skin cancer is on the face and requires plastic reconstruction.
In conventional surgery for many skin cancers, doctors guess how far the cancer has spread and then do a “wide excision” to get all the cancer. This can cause disﬁ gurement.
A better way to ensure the complete removal of a skin cancer is to use a technique known as a frozen section. However, standard frozen sections, while fast, do not have the accuracy required for Mohs surgery.
This has frustrated Dr. Temple and Colin Henderson, the Pathology Technical Coordinator she worked with at St. Joseph’s Health Care. “The level of inaccuracy can lead to some cancers mistakenly reported as being at the margin. In this case the surgeon either removes healthy tissue believing it to be cancerous or possibly subjects the patient to unnecessary radiation or chemotherapy,” says Henderson.
The technique Dr. Temple brought to London from M.D. Anderson Cancer Centre in Houston was more accurate than a standard frozen section, but impeded by very slow lab work.
So Temple and Henderson used their collective ingenuity to develop a kit to do frozen sections. Within months they had developed a crude prototype that could produce fast frozen sections with unprecedented accuracy.
The apparatus, known as CryoCaddy, has been through several cycles of reﬁ nement and is ready to be market tested. Using their components and technique, CryoCaddy can cut operating room times by 22 percent, a signiﬁ cant cost and resource savings.
Getting CryoCaddy to market is a work in progress. With support from WORLDiscoveries® a U.S. patent was awarded in April 2012, and the WORLDiscoveries spin-off company CryoCaddy Inc. was founded in September 2012. A partnership with Pradeep Agrawal, president of Electo-Pack Inc. in Toronto ensured that CryoCaddy would proudly be manufactured in Ontario. “TechAlliance has also been invaluable in helping get us funding through the MaRS Business Acceleration Program to produce beta CryoCaddy kits for 10 inﬂ uential surgeons across Canada to do clinical tests and feedback,” says Henderson.
With skin cancer, a disease of aging and the most common cancer diagnosed in Canadians, this is good news for the many that have had a little too much sun.