June 24th, 2024

New breast cancer imaging technology project announced in Calgary

By ANNA SMITH on May 30, 2024.


The Alberta Cancer Foundation and Calgary Health Foundation have announced a new project that will work toward new, innovative ways to treat breast cancer.

The Sentimag Project, made possible by the contributions of the organizations and the work of a Calgary-based oncologist, aims to change the way Albertans experience breast-preserving cancer surgery.

“The initiative will change the way Alberta women experience cancer surgery. We hope that by funding surgery innovation, tangible improvements will be made to the patient experience, making breast cancer care as comfortable and effective as possible.” Rebecca Bowman, vice president, philanthropy and chief development officer with Calgary Health Foundation.

The project proposes the use of a magnetic seed called Magseed, which can be inserted at the tumour site and sit safely in the breast indefinitely, allowing for less urgent and complicated scheduling, and fewer invasive procedures.

This would replace the use of hook wires to mark the site for excision.

“Marking the tumour for surgical excision with hook wires that protrude from the breast and injection of painful radioactive tracer prior to surgery have been standard practice for decades but are clearly not patient focused approaches,” said Dr. May Lynn Quan, medical director of the Calgary Breast Health Program. “The good news is we now have other ways to identify these lesions with fewer invasive procedures and much less stress than before.”

Close to half the funding for the pilot is thanks to the Alberta Cancer Foundation, an investment which was an easy choice to make, says Barbara Munroe, board vice chair, Alberta Cancer Foundation.

“We are thrilled to support the Sentimag Project, a revolutionary step forward in breast cancer treatment. Investments in innovative technologies like Magseed not only help advance the precision and effectiveness of cancer surgeries but also help ease the patient experience. This project truly aligns with the foundation’s commitment to transforming cancer treatment and ensuring the best possible care for Albertans facing cancer,” said Munroe.

Quan added that while it is fortunate they are making so many strides in creating positive outcomes with less invasive surgeries, it has created a “complex journey with many moving parts which can be daunting and stressful.” It is her hope this will allow for an enhanced patient experience.

Quan hopes the pilot will irrefutably prove the benefits of magnetic markers so they become the standard of care throughout the province.

“We are very excited about the thought of bringing it to Calgarians, developing workflows and evaluating its implementation to provide data supporting its use for all women in Alberta,” said Quan.

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