RESEARCH

Professor Ian Bennett’s research interests have been focused within his specialty area of breast and endocrine surgery, but in particular his major interests have been in the arena of surgeon-performed ultrasound, familial breast cancer, the investigation of potential infective aetiologies of breast cancer, and magnetic resonance spectroscopy of the breast. Prof Bennett has a strong interest in clinical research and has affiliations through the University of Queensland with the Translational Research Institute and the University of Queensland Diamantina Institute, Princess Alexandra Hospital.

SURGEON-PERFORMED ULTRASOUND

Professor Bennett has strong research and teaching interests in relation to surgeon-performed ultrasound in both the breast and endocrine arenas. In particular, he has been involved in the development of innovative techniques for surgeons in relation to the use of intraoperative ultrasound to guide excision of impalpable breast lesions, and in the application of vacuum-assisted biopsy devices to perform excision of benign breast lesions as a type of minimal invasive surgery.

Whilst the traditional method of managing women with impalpable breast lesions requiring surgical excision has been to undertake hookwire guided excisions, this technique can be a stressful and uncomfortable procedure for patients necessitating the radiological placement of a guidewire preoperatively. In 2005 in the World Journal of Surgery Prof Bennett published a report on a series of patients in whom he performed ultrasound guided excisions of impalpable breast lesions using intra-operative ultrasound (IOUS) to localize and guide excision of the lesions, thus enabling the patient to avoid the painful pre-operative localising procedure involving a hookwire. Prof Bennett was the first Breast Surgeon in Australia to publish results using this IOUS technique and one of the first in the world literature to report on the use of IOUS in surgical breast excisions. This technique has now become routine.

A second area of innovation in which Prof Bennett has been involved is in the utilisation of vacuum assisted biopsy devices by surgeons to undertake excisions of benign breast lesions as a form of minimal invasive surgery. Prof Bennett was the principal researcher in a multi-centre trial of this technique which included over 200 patients, and demonstrated that this technique can be successfully performed as an office procedure under local anaesthesia, thus avoiding the need for patients to undergo a hospital-based surgical excision under general anaesthesia, and potentially representing a significant health cost saving. Prof Bennett  published a review of this technique in the international journal Clinical Breast Cancer.

FAMILIAL BREAST CANCER

Another area of research interest for Prof Bennett has been in regard to familial or hereditary breast cancer.  In 1999 and 2000 he was the author of 2 review papers on this topic published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Surgery and in the international journal, The Breast, respectively which summarised the current knowledge in relation to the genetic basis of breast cancer known at that time.

In 1999, he initiated and advocated and for the establishment of a Familial Breast Cancer Clinic at the North Brisbane BreastScreen Queensland Service which was established as a pilot project to offer a more discriminating and tailored breast screening program for women identified at high risk either on the basis of gene testing or their family pedigree.  The Breast Cancer Family History Clinic at Chermside is now well established and provides an essential service for women in the North Brisbane region, and Prof Bennett continues to be the Surgical Director of that clinic.  In 2010 the clinic published a paper detailing its successful results in the World Journal of Surgery.

As further extension of his interest in women at high risk of breast cancer, Prof Bennett is presently involved in collaborative research at the Translational Research Institute in which magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) is being utilised to assess the biochemical characteristics of the breast parenchyma of women with genetic mutations.

Whilst the aetiology of sporadic or non-hereditary breast cancer remains uncertain, numerous recent reports have alluded to a potential role for infective agents. His research group published a systematic review of this topic in Cancer Letters in early 2018 and this research is ongoing.

Information on the various publications that Associate Professor Ian Bennett has written or contributed to are available below, including a selection of papers and excerpts available for download.