Breast surgeons in Newcastle are the first in the UK to offer a pioneering new treatment for patients with breast cancer.
In 2014, the Newcastle Hospitals become the first Trust in the country to offer a specialist procedure called Radioactive Seed Localisation. The procedure uses a very low dose radioactive seed – about the size of a grain of rice – as a beacon to guide surgeons to the exact location of the tumour that is being removed.
Now, breast specialists at the RVI will use the radioactive seeds to assist with the localisation of cancerous lymph nodes.
Mr Henry Cain, consultant oncoplastic surgeon said: “Due to improvements in staging techniques, we are seeing an increasing number of patients being diagnosed pre-operatively with axillary 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 axillary lymph node clearance as only the cancerous lymph nodes would be removed.”
Marian Stokle from Heaton in Newcastle is one of the first patients in the UK to have a targeted axillary dissection using a radioactive seed. The 58 year old mother of two, was diagnosed with breast cancer in January 2017.
Marian started her chemotherapy in February 2017 and had such a good response that treatment using the radioactive seeds became an option.
She said: “Mr Cain explained how the new procedure works and the benefits of using such a targeted approach. The procedure to have the seeds implanted only took an hour and a half and although it was a little uncomfortable it was relatively painless.
“I even managed to have a week in Majorca in between the insertion of the seeds, my last chemotherapy session and my surgery.”
Using the new targeted approach meant that Marian was able to avoid having more tissue than required removed from her breast and armpit, which resulted in a much shorter recovery time than if she’d had a full node clearance.