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Breast cancer patients in Leicester benefit from new trial
Press release date28/03/2018
Breast surgeons at Leicester’s Hospitals are piloting the use of a new device to help remove breast cancers that are too small to feel. Approximately a third of breast cancers are diagnosed by routine mammograms when they are at this stage.
Press release

The Magseed is made of surgical grade steel and is roughly the size of a grain of rice. It has been designed to replace the Guidewire system, which is inserted into the breast under ultrasound or X-ray guidance on the morning of the operation. The wire is then coiled up under a dressing while the patient waits for their operation. 

Simon Pilgrim, consultant breast surgeon, explains: “The Guidewire has to be placed on the day of surgery because it can become dislodged if it is left too long. It can be unpleasant for the patients to have a wire sticking out of their breast, even if only for a short time before their operation.” 

The Magseed can be injected into the breast by radiologists under either ultrasound or x-ray guidance up to 30 days before the patient’s operation. The surgeon uses a handheld probe called Sentimag, which works like a handheld MRI machine, during the operation to find the location of the Magseed in the cancer, and then plan the incision and operation accurately. 

Simon continues: “Although it is obvious where the Guidewire enters the breast, the entry point can be quite a way from the cancer itself. With the Magseed we can remove the cancer just as effectively, but with less dissection to access the right area. We are causing a smaller ‘injury’, so we hope the patients recover better as a result.”

Sandra McNamara from Kettering was one of the first patients to undergo surgery using the Magseed. She explains: “I went for a routine mammogram in late December 2017, which highlighted a very small cancer in my left breast that could not be felt by examinations.

“I was slightly shocked but in a way I was not completely surprised. My family history has had its fair share of cancer, with five out of seven close female family members having been diagnosed to date.”

As Sandra’s breast cancer was very small, she was given the opportunity to be involved in this pilot. “I was very keen to take part when I given the opportunity,” explains Sandra, “as my tumour was so small it was going give me a better chance of the surgeons finding and removing all of the cancer cells.” 

Sandra’s operation, on Tuesday 6 February 2018, went well and she was able to go home within 24 hours. She adds: “I am currently doing very well now and back to doing most of my normal day-to-day living. I experienced very little discomfort after the first three to four days after my operation and there was very little discomfort having the implant before the surgery.”

Simon Pilgrim, consultant breast surgeon, said: “Whilst we don’t think the Magseed will improve breast cancer outcomes or survival, it is important to improve the experience of our patients during their treatment. Our breast care ward already scores very highly for patient satisfaction (100% scores for 15 consecutive months) but we still want to do better.”

Following approval of the pilot study from Leicester Hospitals’ New Interventional Procedures Authorising Group (NIPAG), 10 Magseeds were donated by suppliers, Sysmex UK and EndoMag. The pilot is being led by two consultant oncoplastic breast surgeons, Mr Simon Pilgrim and Miss Monika Kaushik, alongside two of our specialist breast consultant radiologists, Dr Moin Hoosein and Dr Miaad Al-Attar. 

Simon explains: “The pilot wouldn’t have been possible without considerable help from colleagues of all disciplines in Breast Care and Glenfield operating theatres. I am especially grateful to those patients who have helped to draft our patient information as well as the patients who have volunteered to take part in the pilot.” 

The Breast Care Centre at Glenfield Hospital is the largest single centre breast unit in the UK in terms of number of cancers treated annually. Every year, approximately 10,000 new referrals are received and the centre diagnoses and treats between 800 and 1000 breast cancer cases. National figures from Cancer Research UK show that breast cancer survival in the UK has doubled in the last 40 years and 78% of women in England and Wales are surviving for 10 years or more after diagnosis.

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