Southern Trust Consultant Surgeons, Dr Reem Salman - the first surgeon in Ireland to implant a Magseed and Miss Helen Mathers with Associate Specialist Ms Norah Scally who are currently trialling the new technology to locate tumours in breast cancer patients.

The Southern Trust’s breast cancer team is the first in Ireland to trial a new innovative technology to help improve the outcomes from breast surgery. The team are using new ‘Magseed’ technology to help surgeons accurately locate cancerous tumours.

Last year the team operated on 272 people with breast cancer. Consultant Breast Surgeon for the Southern Trust, Miss Helen Mathers explains: “Up to half of breast cancers diagnosed are too small to feel, such as those picked up on screening mammogram. In order to remove the tumour, the surgeon needs a way of accurately finding it at the time of the operation.

“The standard technique to place a guide wire on the day of surgery – one end into the tumour and the other protruding from the breast – can be uncomfortable and stressful for patients.”

Consultant Radiologist Dr Linda Johnston and Radiographer Sarah Conway demonstrating how a ‘Magseed’ is implanted before breast cancer surgery.

New Technique

Miss Mathers continues: “The new Magseed technique involves using a mammogram or ultrasound scan to locate the tumour and implant a tiny magnetic marker or ‘seed’. The seed can be placed up to 30 days before the operation which allows patients to go about their daily routine and means that they can go straight to theatre on the day of their surgery.

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“During the operation, a magnetic probe helps to locate the seed allowing the surgeon to remove the tumour precisely and from any angle.

“Our main goal in cancer surgery is to remove the tumour and ensure the area is clear of cancerous tissue, whilst minimising the amount of normal tissue affected and preserving the appearance of the breast.

“We look forward to bringing our patients the benefits of Magseed which is shown to improve the accuracy of surgery, reduce the removal of healthy tissue and is less stressful for patients on the day of surgery.”

Less stressful

One patient who has participated in the trial, Jennifer said: “I didn’t hesitate in taking part in the trial at all, the Magseed sounded much less stressful than the wire procedure. I would definitely recommend it to any patient, it only took a few moments and as well as being beneficial to the patient, it is a great advantage to the team during surgery.”

The Southern Trust breast cancer team is currently trialing the Magseed with patients attending for breast surgery at Craigavon Area Hospital.