Tool smaller than a grain of rice makes big difference in breast cancer surgeries

In In The News by Barbara Jacoby

By: Jim Mendoza


A new tool being used by breast surgeons at Kuakini Medical Center marks cancerous tumors by using a tiny magnetic chip called a Magseed.

“The conventional way was to place a wire right before surgery into the breast. That was a very uncomfortable process and anxiety-provoking process for a lot of the patients,” breast surgeon Dr. Mari Nakashizuka said.

Now, instead of a wire that protrudes from the skin, a radiation-free marker smaller than a grain of rice is inserted into the patient’s breast.

“It’s very small, about 5 millimeters in length and 1 millimeter in diameter and it’s usually placed adjacent to the clip or mass that we’re targeting,” Kuakini radiologist Mitchell Gudmundsson said.

Breast surgeon Dr. Nancy Furumoto said during an operation, a magnetic probe locates the seed and guides the surgeon straight to the cancerous tissue.

“I think it’s a lot more precise and accurate, and I think it’s going to cut down on re-excision rates,” she said.

The surgeon then removes the seed when extracting the tumor.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if the precision is improved with this new technology,” Gudmundsson said. “The studies have not yet been done to confirm that it’s necessarily better than the hook wire but I think there is potential for that.”

Many hospitals on the mainland have transitioned to using Magseeds for lumpectomies.

Kuakini is the first hospital in Hawaii to use it.

“It’s real-time scanning. That’s the strength of it,” Furumoto said.

Since they began using the new procedure in January, breast surgeons at Kuakini have utilized Magseed technology in more than 60 breast cancer operations.

“When patients come back and tell me that this was a much easier process compared to the wire technology, and they’re happier, I’m happy because they’re happy,” Nakashizuka said.