Can a Magnetic Seed Improve Accuracy of Breast Cancer Surgeries?

By Jonesa Rodriguez - October 14, 2021

When a breast cancer patient chooses a lumpectomy to remove cancer in the breast, the surgeon needs a way to locate the tumor so it can be retrieved accurately and easily. 

For many women and men, this procedure is traditionally done with wire localization. On the day of surgery, a wire is placed in the breast that helps surgeons locate and remove the tumor.  

Drawbacks to wire localization are that it is placed the morning of surgery so the patient has to undergo a separate procedure, and the wire could move or dislodge, potentially affecting the accuracy of the surgery. 

Now a new breast cancer surgery advancement, magnetic seed technology, or Magseed, is providing a different experience for patients and potentially reducing the number of repeat surgeries needed because the cancer wasn’t completely removed.  Magseed is deployed in the tissue to mark tumors, helping surgeons accurately locate the tumor and remove it in one piece. 

Dr. Susan Hoover, breast surgical oncologist, Breast Oncology Program
Dr. Susan Hoover, breast surgical oncologist, Breast Oncology Program

“The beauty of magnetic seed technology is that it can be placed days, weeks or months ahead of surgery,” said Dr. Susan Hoover, breast surgical oncologist in the Breast Oncology Program at Moffitt Cancer Center.  “Since the seed is placed ahead of time, the patient can enjoy an early morning surgery, since no procedure is necessary on the day of operation.”

Smaller than a grain of rice, Magseed is a tiny seed made from surgical grade steel. Since the Magseed is embedded firmly in the tumor, there is less chance for the seed to dislodge or move, improving accuracy of the surgical resection of the cancer. 

Magseed is magnetic, not radioactive like some markers available on the market, so there is no concern for radiation exposure.

During surgery, the Magseed is detected by a magnetic probe, which guides the surgeon directly to the tumor. 

“The seed technology touts a lower re-excision rate compared to wire localization, which is also very attractive to patients and surgeons. It means the potential for fewer second surgeries to clear surgical margins of cancer,” said Hoover.  “Newer technologies that may help improve the overall experience for our patients is of prime importance to us.”

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