Medical Minute 10-6: Seeds Spot Breast Cancer

By: Melissa Medalie Email
By: Melissa Medalie Email

200,000 women will get a diagnosis this year and nearly 40,000 will die, but when breast cancer is spotted early, the news isn't always bad.

"I feel very blessed. I think God was looking out for me," said Cindy Dyer.

Cindy Dyer's doctors found a tumor one-millimeter in size on her mammogram. She needed a lumpectomy to remove it. To do that, surgeons have to precisely locate the tumor. The standard way is to insert a large wire through a needle -- with X-rays as a guide. It's not easy.

"You can't see it. You can't feel it, so you're kind of guessing based on those X-rays. For some, it can be very uncomfortable, painful," said Louis Barr, M.D., Surgical Oncologist.

Doctor Louis Barr offered Cindy something different. Radioactive seeds are implanted in the center of the lump. A device reads the radio-active signal inside the seeds and acts as a marker -- guiding the surgeon to the right spot -- so he can remove the tumor and the seeds.

"It gives us a precise way of knowing exactly where the spot is that we need to go."

The seed method can be done five days before surgery. In a Mayo Clinic study, only eight percent had to have more operations to remove left over tissue. Since the seeds are so small, there's less pain, with little to no recovery time. The wire method has to be inserted the same day as surgery -- often causing scheduling conflicts. 25 percent of patients had to have additional surgery, and it can be painful.

"It took less than 30 minutes. Drove home and prepared for surgery the next day," said Cindy Dyer.

Because doctors found her lump so early, Cindy is cancer-free.

FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT: Thresa Holden, Breast Cancer Care CoordinatorFlorida Hospital Cancer InstituteOrlando, FL(407)

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