New breast cancer technology targets tumors doctors can’t feel

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CARMEL, Ind. (Sept. 17, 2015)-- New technology is showing positive signs for breast cancer patients. Doctors at St. Vincent Carmel Women's Center have tools that are providing better accuracy when it comes to removing breast tumors.

The goal is to get to those tumors that are deep down in the breast tissue that doctors can't feel by touch.

"They deposit this tiny little seed right in that area in the or they have this probe that's like a holding device. You put it on the breast and it starts beeping it will go 'beep, beep, beep' and it holds right down to the area of concern," said Dr. Erica Giblin, St. Vincent Breast Surgeon.

It's called a radioactive seed localization. The seed is placed in the breast, goes to the tumor site and allows doctors to pinpoint the tumor with much greater accuracy. Think of it as using a metal detector on the beach.

Dr. Giblin demonstrated how the radioactive seed works using a chicken breast. Before this breast surgeons would use their gut instinct and typically cut a bigger chunk of tissue.

"It helps us hone in and be much more accurate in the tissue that we take out. It allows us to take out a smaller amount of tissues instead of filing this wire down and taking this huge pancake of tissue out," said Dr. Giblin.

"Anything that would make her able to be more efficient that would benefit me as well with the amount of surgery that would need to be done it was definitely something I would recommend," said breast cancer survivor Debbie Bush.

Bush says she opted for this newer procedure because it also kept her from undergoing surgery multiple times. That's thanks to the other new tool--the MarginProbe. That new tool allows doctors to test the outer layers of the tumor for cancer. Before this that process was a separate surgery.

"Both of these technologies together are showing they can decrease the rate of having to take a woman back for re-excision if there was positive tumor by up to 50 percent," said Dr. Giblin.

"I'm cancer free, so i'm happy and very pleased with my results," said Bush.

St. Vincent is the only hospital in Central Indiana using this technology.