Its called 'Intraoperative Frozen Section Biopsy' and has been used with positive results for a good number of years on women with breast cancer. Radical mastectomies have become a rarity and even mastectomies have been greatly reduced to lumpectomies. It is also regularly used for people with bowel cancer.
IFS is a difficult procedure that is based on judgement, experience and knowledge. What it provides for the surgeon is a rapid diagnosis, but regardless of that, the paraffin embedded tissue technique is also used as back up.
We were told that if any part of the tumor was difficult to diagnose, then more tissue than possibly necessary would be removed. The final decision is always with the pathologist and not the surgeon.
The operation does take longer but on average, that's by 20 minutes.
Speaking to the NHS PC surgeons at Addenbrookes, they have been campaigning to make this procedure available for sexually functional men who have locally advanced PC. The trials were very positive and that's why the private sector picked it up so quickly.
When I spoke to cancer research about this, they were very excited about the positive outcomes and said it was taking longer to reach the NHS (at least for PC) than they had hoped but that it would eventually be implemented as an NHS procedure.
Steve was told that he would have everything, including the entire nerves removed by his original potential surgeon.
The surgeon he used did use IFS but said that the cancer was sitting well beneath the nerves and he could see even when he went in that most of the nerves could probably be saved. Along with IFS he had over 80% of the nerves spared.
We obviously need to see the surgeon tomorrow and who knows what we are going to be told.