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26 January, 2017 - 12:44 By Tony Quested

Landmark deal as US university takes Endomag breast cancer technology

Eric Mayes CEO at Endomag

The University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) has become the first US site to adopt Cambridge company Endomag’s Magseed® technology as its standard of care for localisation of impalpable breast lesions.

Magseed guides surgeons during a breast lumpectomy to simplify treatment and improve patient experience; it is being marketed as a simpler, more effective alternative to traditional wire localisation methods.

Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer in women, with 1.7 million new cases globally every year – a rate that is expected to double by 2030. 

Due to a rise in national screening programmes and an increase in public awareness, breast cancer is being caught at an earlier stage – meaning that the tumours are smaller, less defined and harder to feel.

As many as 50 per cent of all breast tumours are impalpable at the time of diagnosis. In these cases, a technique called wire localisation is typically used by surgeons to locate the tumour.

Although widely used, wire localisation commonly causes complications. On average one in every four breast wire localisations result in cancerous tissue being left behind and requiring additional surgery because the wire has become dislodged between when it was implanted and when it was removed during surgery. 

Additionally, there is a risk of infection due to the wire protruding from the skin, so the placement of the wire must be done on the same day as surgery. These issues result in unnecessary anxiety for patients, delays to the surgical lists and fewer patients being treated as a consequence.

Dr Eric Mayes, CEO of Endomag, said: “The wire localisation technique has remained largely the same since it was introduced over 30 years ago and it causes a lot of anxiety for patients. We wanted to create a technique that could simplify the localisation process and improve the patient experience.”

Magseed is smaller than a grain of rice and can be placed into the tumour for up to 30 days, allowing the patient to return home ahead of surgery. Once implanted, the seed is not easily dislodged and patients are not restricted in movement or activity. During surgery the seed is detected with the Sentimag® probe to guide accurate removal of the tumour and maximising the amount of healthy tissue left behind.

Unlike radioactive alternatives that involve strict regulatory oversight and complex logistics, the Magseed technique can be widely adopted by any hospital, regardless of size.

Dr Michael Alvarado, a breast surgeon at UCSF, said: “We have been looking for a better alternative to wire localisation for some time, as the wire procedure adds additional stress for the patients on the day of surgery and often causes delays to our operating schedule.

“Very early in our evaluation of the magnetic seed technique we found that we could avoid a same-day placement and the surgeries could be completed in less time without compromising accuracy. This offers a tangible benefit to both our clinical team and, most importantly, our patients.”

• PHOTOGRAPH SHOWS: Dr Eric Mayes, CEO, Endomag

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