New device introduced at local hospitals to improve accuracy of breast cancer surgery

Healthcare professionals at Doncaster and Bassetlaw Teaching Hospitals (DBTH) have introduced Magseed and Magtrace to help improve the accuracy and timeliness of breast tumour surgery.

Cancers picked up through breast screening are usually small and impossible to feel. To help clinicians find tumours when they operate, colleagues have traditionally used a wire which is placed within the growth by the radiologist on the day of surgery or the day before.

Unfortunately, wires can sometimes displace making it difficult to find the tumour, extending the time taken during surgery, which can have a knock-on effect for other planned procedures. The patient may even need a second surgery if the tumour cannot be found.

Looking for a better way of working, colleagues at DBTH are now working with a new system called Magseed. Using this process, healthcare professionals are able to deploy a tiny metal marker, about the size of an apple pip, which can be placed in the tumour any time before surgery.

On the day of surgery, clinicians are able to use a magnetic probe to guide them to the exact location of the tumour, allowing for its extraction. Furthermore, it’s not a problem if the procedure is delayed as the seed does not displace, stays completely still and is painless.

Radiologists and surgeons alike prefer to use seeds because they are easier to put in than a wire, and do not displace, making it easier to find the tumour. Additionally, the whole procedure becomes much more accurate and results in minimal removal of breast tissue.

From a patient perspective, having a seed placed within the tumour is more convenient than having a wire placement, with individuals not having to worry about it coming out or hurting when in place.

Ms Clare Rogers, Consultant Breast Surgeon at DBTH, said: “It has taken a lot of hard work to get to this point, but we’re already seeing the benefits of this new way of working, with some fantastic patient feedback. I want to thank all colleagues that have been involved in introducing Magseed and hopefully we can continue to innovate long into the future for the benefit of those within our care.”

Colleagues at the Trust have also introduced Magtrace. Similar to Magseed, this makes use of magnetic particles for sentinel node biopsy – a procedure in which the sentinel lymph node is identified, removed, and examined to determine whether cancer cells are present. Traditionally, a dye is injected under the patient’s nipple on the side of the cancer. The dye then travels through lymphatics to the armpit lymph nodes and concentrates in the most important sentinel nodes.

Previously, clinicians were using radiocolloid injected by the Gamma Camera team which has to be injected less than 24 hours before surgery, and Bassetlaw patients had to travel to Doncaster for the procedure.

Using Magtrace, patients can be injected safely within their clinical appointment up to 30 days before surgery on either site. This also negates the need for radiocollid, which is currently in short supply due to manufacturing problems, and has helped to maintain the service and avoid any delays to cancer surgeries.

These are just some of the ways the Trust is seeking to innovative for patients, particularly within the area of cancer diagnosis and treatment, with more information available here: