Check Your Health: New technology improves the breast cancer diagnosis process

Check Your Health - New breast cancer marker.png
Check Your Health - New breast cancer marker

(KUTV)- New technology is now streamlining the diagnosis and treatment for breast cancer patients.

Previously, when a patient experienced an abnormal mammogram or breast lump, she would be offered a biopsy at a later date, sometimes a week or two away. Now, if doctors find a suspicious lesion, they can offer her a same-day biopsy.

‘We are always looking for ways to improve the patient's experience so they experience less anxiety, they feel comfortable with the care that they are getting and they know we are being efficient with their time and their resources,” said Dr. Brett Parkinson, director of breast imaging for Intermountain Healthcare.

Over the last two years, radiologists and surgeons at Intermountain Healthcare’s Intermountain Medical Center Breast Cancer Center have instituted this new process.

The results are usually available in 48 hours and this expedited process not only saves the patient a trip back to the clinic, but it also results in efficiency for the healthcare system.

“What’s really important, I think for patients is between each of those visits anxiety would ramp up. Now, after we tell the patient she has something suspicious, we do the biopsy and she will go directly to the surgeon. So, that time where the anxiety could build is greatly reduced. Overall a lot of money is saved because she doesn't have to come for additional visits,” said Dr. Parkinson.

Doctors are also enhancing the expedited biopsy process with the latest technology by using a radar reflecting marker called SAVI Scout, a system features a reflector that is placed at the tumor site before a lumpectomy or surgical biopsy.

During the procedure, the surgeon scans the breast using the SAVI Scout guide, which emits infrared light and a radar signal to detect the location of the reflector. Real-time audible and visual indicators assist the surgeon in accurately locating the reflector, along with the target tissue.

This higher level of localization precision allows the surgeon to plan a surgical approach that may result in a better outcome. If the tumor must be removed, the doctor simply finds the marker using a probe and removes it. This important benefit has the potential to reduce surgical delays and optimize surgical planning and may result in more patients receiving care faster.

“The surgeon, when she or he goes in to take out the tumor has a direct path with that marker, instead of having to follow our wire which wasn't always the most direct route,” said Dr. Parkinson.

Previously, a radiologist would guide a wire through the breast to a metallic marker that was placed in the tumor. Because they had to use an ultrasound to do the procedure, they couldn’t always take a direct path with the wire. A surgeon would then have to cut along the wire to extract the tumor.

With a guidewire eliminated from the process, it saves the patient time, money, and anxiety of waiting. By having the SAVI Scout already placed, it allows for quicker surgery for the patient. Eliminating these extra steps can reduce costs.

“There’s also much less likely chance of infection because we do fewer procedures. With the marker, the surgeons are making an incision right over the marker instead of having to follow a guide wire, which we put in under imaging guidance, which isn’t always the most direct route,” said Dr. Parkinson.

Linda Warner went through breast cancer treatment two and a half years ago. This was before Intermountain Medical Center began using the SAVI Scout.

“The old procedure was the least pleasant, most uncomfortable part of entire cancer treatment including the diagnosis, the surgery, and radiation treatment,” said Linda.

Linda says besides the pain, the whole process caused her a lot of anxiety.

“Between each visit, it was like your anxiety your nerves your stress kind of increases and especially the final procedure. If it can be done while you are already out waiting for surgery, then fantastic,” said Linda.

Linda believes the new procedure will be a huge improvement and while she hopes she never needs to go through it, she knows it will help thousands of women.

“We are always looking for ways to improve the patient's experience so they experience less anxiety, they feel comfortable with the care that they are getting and they know we are being efficient with their time and their resources,” said Dr. Parkinson.

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