Radio waves help surgeons pinpoint cancerous tumors
Just hearing “you have breast cancer” can send any woman’s mind racing. For many of the 266,000 women diagnosed each year with invasive breast cancer, the stress doesn’t stop there.
Surgery day often means two procedures. Traditionally, a wire is placed in a women’s breast at an imaging center on the day of surgery. With the wire protruding from her breast, a woman then travels to the hospital for surgery, sometimes hours later. Doctors use the wire to find the tumor to be removed.
“Now we are taking one stress away on a very stressful day,” said Blair Harkness, MD, gynecological oncologist with HOPE Women’s Cancer Centers, an affiliate of Mission Health, who is using the Savi Scout® as a new way to pinpoint the exact location of breast tumors. “Most of my patients find the wire placement uncomfortable and stressful on the day of surgery.”
How It Works
Before the day of surgery, a tiny, rice-size marker called a reflector is placed in the breast to mark the tumor. It’s forgotten until the day of surgery. Once in the operating room, doctors use a hand-held system that transmits harmless radio waves to find the tiny marker and the tumor. “My patients don’t even notice the reflector once it’s placed,” said Dr. Harkness.
1 in 8 woman will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime
Since most breast cancers are found early with mammography, this option is available to most women. Doctors at Mission are using this new technology now.
“We can finally offer our patients a more convenient option that seems to ease some of their concerns,” said Dr. Harkness. While it doesn’t happen often, there’s a small chance the traditional wire could be moved slightly before surgery. “My patients who have had both types of surgeries prefer Savi Scout,” said Dr. Harkness.
Blair Harkness, MD, is a gynecological oncologist with HOPE Women’s Cancer Centers, an affiliate of Mission Health.