How VCU Massey Cancer Center can find the tiniest of tumors

RICHMOND, Va. -- Sometimes doctors can’t feel a breast cancer tumor. VCU Massey Cancer Center is the first in the Richmond area to use a new device to help pinpoint a tumor exactly.

Just nine days ago, Brenda Hendricks had a lumpectomy.

"I’m ready to get on back to life. My normal life," Hendricks said.

The 67-year-old mother of three, with six grandchildren, was diagnosed with breast cancer in April after doctors found a tumor during a routine mammogram.

"This could not be detected by a self-breast exam. I would have never found it," Hendricks said.

Nearly 50 percent of breast cancer tumors cannot be felt at the time of diagnosis. To help locate the tumor exactly, doctors would typically use a wire localization method to find it.

However, doctors at VCU Massey Cancer Center are fine tuning that approach by using a new device called Magseed.

"At the center of this, you'll see this stainless steel seed. It's five millimeters by one millimeter in size," Kandace McGuire, with VCU Massey Cancer Center, said.

The seed is smaller than a grain of rice.

The radiologist locates the tumor through imaging and inserts the seed in the tumor. It can stay there for up to 30 days.

Then, the surgeon uses a probe on the patient's skin to find the seed and the tumor.

"It beeps as I get closer to the target, so I'm following that signal down to the target and removing the cancer," Dr. McGuire said.

Dr. McGuire said there are concerns with the previous wire method such as a possible infection or the device can move before surgery. The big plus for Magseed, patients can get it days before surgery instead of day of with the wire.

"It really allows the patient to be in control of their own schedule,” Dr. McGuire said.

Brenda chose to have the Magseed procedure and the lumpectomy all done in one day because she lives in Christiansburg which is almost four hours away. Thankfully, her cancer was caught early and she has more time to spend with family.

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