Stanford Cancer Institute

SCI Innovation Awardee

March 2023 - SCI Women’s Cancer Center Innovation Award

A $50,000 Stanford Women's Cancer Center Innovation award was awarded to Irene Wapnir, MD, Professor of Surgery, and her collaborator Dung Nguyen, MD, Pharm. D, Clinical Professor of Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery, for their project entitled “Volume and symmetry outcomes in unilateral omentum-based breast reconstruction.” Dr. Wapnir is a breast surgical oncologist who has worked over the past 30 years on national clinical trials as well as bench-to-bedside research, with her laboratory work centered on the elucidation of the sodium-iodide symporter in the mammary gland and its potential as a therapeutic target.

Using a woman’s own tissue for breast reconstruction is superior to implant-based reconstruction in terms of appearance and durability. Normal or under-weight women often lack abdominal or thigh donor tissues. Others are simply opposed to using prosthetic implants or are averse to the potential scarring/morbidity that can occur at donor sites. Drs. Wapnir and Nguyen were motivated to find a solution for these patients and created a novel tissue implant based on the omentum, a sheet-like intraabdominal tissue composed of blood vessels and fat. After laparoscopically removing the omentum, it is injected with fat (fat-augmented), placed within an inert dermal matrix shell, and is connected to the chest vessels as a free-flap (OFAFF). OFAFF conforms to the shape of the mastectomy skin, preserving the natural appearance. To date, 44 patients have received unilateral or bilateral OFAFF reconstructions. Through the support of the SCI Women's Cancer Center Innovation award, Drs. Wapnir and Nguyen will study the stability of OFAFF volume via pre and post-operative breast magnetic resonance imaging in 5 patients who underwent surgery at least 12 months earlier. Another 10 patients will be prospectively studied to correlate mastectomy, OFAFF constructs and MRI volume estimations. Patient-reported outcomes will be assessed via a questionnaire.