Doctors in Newcastle are the first in the UK to offer a pioneering cancer treatment using tiny seeds and are calling for it to be used more.
Surgeons at the Royal Victoria Infirmary use the radioactive seeds, which are the size of a grain of rice, as a beacon to help the localisation of cancerous lymph nodes (glands).
Current treatment for these nodes are marked with a clip and guide wire but it can be difficult for operating surgeons to follow these to an exact location, meaning healthy tissue from the armpit can also be removed.
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This follows on from work doctors in the city have been doing with the treatment – known as Radioactive Seed Localisation – since 2014. Doctors have been using the “low dose radioactive seeds” as a beacon to help guide them to the exact location of a tumour being removed.
Henry Cain, a consultant at the infirmary, has called for an increase in the use of this treatment.
He said: “Due to improvements in staging techniques we are seeing an increasing number of patients being diagnosed pre-operativeky with auxiliary node disease, where cancer is detected in the lymph nodes in their armpit. Using this highly targeted approach means some patients will not have to have a full auxiliary clearance as only the cancerous lymph nodes would be removed.
“We have already completed over 800 operations to remove breast tumours using this procedure, with excellent results. Expanding the use of this exciting new procedure to the removal of cancerous lymph nodes will allow us to do less aggressive surgery but still maintain a high level of success in our breast cancer patients.”