How New Technology Can Reduce Anxiety for Breast Cancer Patients

Sentimag device

A diagnosis of breast cancer will have you wondering what lies ahead, thinking about what treatments you will need and worrying about the future.

A new procedure for women who are scheduled to undergo breast surgery to treat their cancer changes the way the tumor is located and marked before surgery. The procedure has the potential to lessen anxiety and improve the overall patient experience.

Prior to a lumpectomy, the tumor must be marked so that it can be precisely located during surgery. An accurate location is essential to ensure that the tumor and an adequate margin of surrounding healthy tissue is removed.

The traditional method of tumor marking involves feeding a guide wire into the breast and “hooking” the tumor. The tail of the guide wire is left exposed outside the body and taped down to the skin. The surgeon then follows the wire to perform the lumpectomy. The same technique is used to mark lymph nodes that have been biopsied and need to be surgically removed.

With the wire method, the patient must go to radiology the day of the surgery for the localization, which is guided by either mammography or ultrasound. Later that day in the operating room, the surgeon follows the wire to the cancer or lymph node.

Placing the wire the morning of surgery can add hours to the patient's stay, prolonging the time spent in the surgery suite and potentially adding to the patient’s stress levels. And if the guide wire moves in the time between insertion and surgery, it can lead to the removal of more tissue than necessary or not enough tissue to ensure a safe margin. Both scenarios can lead to the need for additional surgeries.

Seeds vs. Guide Wires

University Hospitals is one of the first providers in the region to move to a new tumor marking system developed by Endomag that uses seeds instead of a guide wire.

Called the Magseed® system, this method places a tiny metallic pellet – smaller than a grain of rice – within the tumor. Imaging technology is used to guide the pellet into the tumor and mammography confirms that the placement is correct. On the day of surgery, the Magseed® and the cancer it marks can be detected by a metal-detector-like magnetic wand that enables the surgeon to precisely locate and remove the tumor.

Unlike guide wires, a Magseed® can be inserted days or months in advance, usually at an already scheduled breast center visit. The patient has already had the tumor or node localized on the morning of surgery, preventing delays and additional procedures. Patients have been appreciative of eliminating the wire-localization step and have reported that less time spent waiting has resulted in less stress and anxiety. Because of the accuracy of the localization, the Magseed® technique also reduces the incidence of repeat surgeries and lowers the risk of removing more healthy tissue than necessary.

“The Magseed® system has a lot of benefits,” says Jill Dietz, MD, Director of Breast Center Operations at University Hospitals. “It’s not an added trip or inconvenience. It eliminates those anxiety-producing procedures that need to happen on the day of surgery, and it’s a more accurate way of localizing the cancer. Overall, the system simplifies treatment, improves the patient experience and supports better outcomes, which is our goal for all of our patients who have to go through breast cancer treatment. My patients have been very happy that we have adopted this new technology.”

University Hospitals offers the Magseed® system for lumpectomies at three eastside locations: UH Cleveland Medical Center, UH Ahuja Medical Center and UH Suburban Surgery Center. The UH breast team hopes to expand this service to multiple other locations in the near future.

Related Links

Breast Cancer Care Team
UH Seidman Cancer Center

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