New technology will improve the hospital experience for breast cancer patients

New technology to improve the outcome and experience for breast cancer patients has been introduced at Bradford Teaching Hospitals, thanks to a £70,000 grant.


This generous bursary is from West Yorkshire and Harrogate Cancer Alliance, a range of organisations involved in caring for and supporting those affected by cancer, and the Yorkshire and Humber Academic Health Science Network, an NHSE body set up to meet the healthcare challenges of local populations.


‘Magseed’ is a tiny, magnetic marker which is designed to accurately mark the tumour site to enable more precise surgery. It also makes the process more comfortable for patients and more efficient for surgeons, meaning better outcomes for everyone.


Consultant Oncoplastic Breast Surgeon and Clinical Lead Mohamed (Mo) Salhab explained: “While some breast tumours are easy to feel, many are not, especially the ones detected through breast screening as they can be tiny or hidden deep inside the breast tissue and when operating are not visible to the human eye.


“Traditionally, as preparation for surgery, the standard surgical treatment over the years for patients with screen detected cancer that cannot be felt by hand, has been dependant on a wire localisation.


“This short procedure is performed by breast radiologists and sees a fine wire, similar in diameter to fishing wire, placed into the breast to mark the tumour the morning of surgery.


“The wire is then used to guide the surgeon to accurately locate cancer mass, deep inside the breast during the operation.”


The insertion of the wire is not straightforward as the wire is placed into the patient at St Luke’s Hospital, where the equipment is based, on the morning of the operation, but the surgery is carried out in the afternoon at the Bradford Royal Infirmary, or latterly the Yorkshire Clinic because of the COVID-19 pandemic, where the operating theatres are based.


The wire can be uncomfortable for patients and during transfer of the patients between hospitals, it can become dislodged, meaning that surgery can be less accurate, resulting in some facing a second operation and further anxiety.


‘Magseed’ will revolutionise this process. This wire-free alternative sees a small non-radioactive seed, smaller than a grain of rice, placed into the patient’s breast up to a month ahead of surgery.


The procedure takes just 5-10 minutes and more accurately marks the site of a tumour compared to the wire localisation, which can sometimes move by the time the patient reaches the operating table.


The ‘Magseed’ is then located and removed by the surgeon using a magnetic probe.


Mr Salhab continued: “’Magseed’ will transform the hospital experience for the 150 patients each year in Bradford who require lumpectomies.


“It will also streamline the care we give to patients as the magnetic marker can be placed into the patient on the same day that they are diagnosed and the decision is taken to treat. Patients can then go away and forget about things until they return for their surgery at a later date.


“The introduction of this new technology will not only minimise disruption for our patients, it will help improve their experience, improve patient flow, reduce hospital visits and the stress these bring, as well as aiding better utilisation of our operating theatres as patients needing lumpectomies can be scheduled for surgery at any time of the day and not just afternoons.


“’Magseed’ leads to greater accuracy in pinpointing the tumour and less of the breast tissue needs to be removed during surgery which leads a better cosmetic outcome for the patient.”


During the operation, another procedure to inject a non-radioactive tracer, known as ‘Magtrace’ is also used to further pinpoint accurately the first draining lymph nodes most likely to contain cancer to help the surgeon determine if it has spread.


Magtrace can be injected in the breast in the outpatients department by the breast surgeon up to a week before surgery. This speeds up the existing surgical process and gets rid of another hospital appointment the morning of their lumpectomy.


Mr Salhab continued: “Without ‘Magseed’ and ‘Magtrace’, patients would have as many as three different procedures at three different hospitals in the 24 to 36 hours before their surgery.


“Clinicians too are benefitting as we are doing the best for our patients and bringing them the latest, cutting edge technology which can only be a good thing.


“The Trust will also benefit as theatre time will be better utilised.”


Chief Medical Officer, Ray Smith, said the Trust was “absolutely delighted” to get the  bursary which will really improve the experience for our breast cancer patients.”


The bid was put together by General Manager for Breast Cancer Services, Sam Vidler.


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