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Massey first in the region to use a new device that marks breast tumors for removal


VCU Massey Cancer Center is the first in the region to use a new FDA-approved device that guides surgeons in locating and removing breast tumors. Named Magseed, the device is a simpler, more effective alternative to traditional methods.

Nearly 50 percent of breast tumors are not felt by touch at the time of diagnosis. In these cases, a technique called wire localization traditionally has been used to mark the tumor for surgeons to remove during a lumpectomy. Wire localization involves a thin wire being inserted into the tumor by a radiologist, who uses a mammogram, ultrasound or MRI as a guide.

Although widely used, wire localization commonly causes complications. Because the wire sticks out from the breast and hours might elapse between when it was implanted and the operation begins, the wire could become dislodged. For this reason, on average, 1 in 4 breast wire localizations result in cancerous tissue being left behind and requiring additional surgery. There is also a risk of infection due to the wire protruding from the skin, so the placement of it must be done on the same day as surgery. Furthermore, the protruding wire is uncomfortable for patients, and the placement of the wire and surgery occurring in the same day requires a multiple-hour stay in the hospital.

Magseed is a magnetic seed made of stainless steel that is smaller than a grain of rice and can be placed into the tumor days or weeks before surgery. Once implanted, the seed is not easily dislodged and patients are not restricted in movement or activity. They can return home after the seed is implanted and then arrive at the hospital closer to their scheduled surgery time. During surgery, the surgeon uses a magnetic detection probe to locate the seed and guide removal of the tumor and the seed within it.

Other wire localization alternatives exist. However, Magseed is the only widely available wire alternative that is radiation-free and cannot be deactivated during surgery.

“Magseed provides a more accurate target for the surgeon and a more comfortable and convenient procedure for the patient,” said surgical oncologist Kandace McGuire, M.D., chief of breast surgery and director of the Breast Cancer Collaborative Care Clinic at VCU Massey Cancer Center.

“It’s a win-win when we can offer both a better patient experience and better surgical outcomes,” McGuire said.

During implantation of Magseed, a small area of the breast is numbed by a local anesthetic similar to what a dentist uses. The radiologist uses either X-ray or ultrasound to guide precise placement of the seed, which is inserted through a very small needle. Afterward, a small adhesive bandage is used to cover the area.

Studies have shown that surgical outcomes, such as the amount of tissue removed and the rate of obtaining clear margins of tissue around the tumor, are better with the seed method than with wire localization. McGuire predicts Magseed will eventually become the new standard of care for breast lesion localization.

“I’m proud that Massey is helping to pioneer this advancement,” McGuire said