Breast Cancer Technology You’ve Probably Never Heard About

03-09-2017 8:42 AM

According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, one in four women who have surgery to remove breast cancer will undergo more surgeries.

Why? Because surgeons want to remove all the cancer while leaving as much of the healthy breast as possible for cosmetic reasons.

The challenge? The surgeon can’t see the cancer cells. It usually takes a pathologist to see those after the surgery. That can take a week or more. If the path report indicates more cancer cells, the patient will undergo at least one more surgery.

The good news? Thanks to medical technology, surgical guidance systems are now available to help doctors get all the cancer during the first surgery. Each method accomplishes the same goal — just using a different method.

While these new technologies are available, you may not find them in your area. And you’ll definitely want to talk to your doctor about the best option for you. There’s no one-size fits all treatment plan.

SAVI SCOUT® is latest in this technology. The SCOUT uses radar to help surgeons locate cancerous tissue during surgery. Unlike other methods, SCOUT offers no radiation and no wires. Up to 30 days before a lumpectomy or biopsy, the surgeon inserts a reflector at the tumor site. During the surgery, the surgeon uses the SCOUT tool to locate the reflector and cancerous tissue. Currently, SCOUT is available in about 50 cancer centers nationwide.

The MarginProbe® System, approved in 2012 and updated in 2015, allows surgeons to analyze breast tissue during surgery. The Margin Probe system detects the electromagnetic properties of cancerous cells. In about five minutes, surgeons can tell if they need to remove more tissue or if they removed it all. Dune Medical estimates surgeons have used MarginProbe in more than 10,000 patients.

Radioactive seed localization has been widely used in prostate cancer but only more recently in breast cancer. This procedure usually takes place the day before surgery. Using a tiny needle, the surgeon places a tiny radioactive seed — about the size of a pencil lead — directly on the cancerous lump. The seed guides the surgeon to remove the cancerous tissues with an accuracy not typically found with the traditional wired method.

Stacy Graves is contributing editor of The Mary Kay Foundation℠ blog. Stacy loves to get the latest scoop on new technology, and she loves to hear from you. You can connect with her at, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest.