Breast cancer patients in Kenya and beyond will now have a new surgical option that eliminates exposure to radioactive materials and offers a less invasive, more flexible alternative for cancer detection. The M.P. Shah Hospital has become a regional centre for breast cancer care by pioneering the use of the Sentimag system, which has enabled women diagnosed with breast cancer to conserve their breasts and feel good about it many years after treatment. This system is also currently the most modern and innovative solution to breast cancer treatment available in East Africa
The Sentimag technology platform is a magnetic surgical guidance probe used with microscopic tracers and other magnetic devices to more safely and easily determine the spread of cancer. Its first introduction in East Africa through the M.P. Shah Hospital will be its use with an implantable magnetic lesion marker, called Magseed, that easily guides surgeons to cancerous cells. The Sentimag + Magseed combination serves as a replacement for procedures involving surgical wire needles and radioactive seeds, which are the two standards of care currently in practice for finding a breast tumour in advance of a lumpectomy.
“As breast cancer screening programs have advanced, tumours are now detected much earlier, so they are smaller, less defined and harder to feel. In fact, 50 percent of all breast tumours cannot be felt at diagnosis,” Said Dr Marek Ostwowski, the Oncoplastic Breast Surgeon and the head of surgery at M.P. Shah Hospital. “Since these tiny tumours are often impalpable, they are difficult for surgeons to locate during a lumpectomy.” He added.
“This technology is designed to guide surgeons using Sentimag to locate impalpable tumours for biopsy and has many advantages over wire and radioactive seed localization,” Dr Marek said. “The Magseed magnetic markers can be placed in the breast up to 30 days in advance of surgery using X-ray or ultrasound guidance. This offers scheduling flexibility for surgeons and radiologists, as well as for patients, compared to wire-guided localization.” He also added that Magseed allows for the possibility of patients to return home before their operations.
As the world’s most sensitive handheld magnetic probe, Sentimag is capable of detecting tiny quantities of magnetic material in the body to guide surgeons to locate the first lymph node to which a tumour’s metastasizing cancer cells drain. This advancement in medical practices has offered more women diagnosed with breast cancer the opportunity to receive breast-conserving and lymph node-sparing surgery. It has therefore transformed breast cancer care by enhancing the patient experience. Jerioth Murigi, a patient who underwent lumpectomy was happy that she was discharged on the next day after her surgery, thanks to this new technology. “Marking of the tumour gave me peace of mind as I was now sure that the tumour had been removed 100%,” She said.
This is therefore a dramatic benefit to all patients diagnosed with breast cancer across East Africa even as the Hospital continues to ensure that it significantly improves the oncological outcome and patient’s quality of life. Through the application of this new and less invasive surgical approach, the Hospital joins the 30 other hospitals from around the world which have utilized this technology to provide the new surgical option to their patients. However, it is important to do breast self-exams for the continuous monitoring of changes to detect and combat any irregularities early as well as get treatment faster. Keep your cups full, know your breasts. Early detection saves lives.