Magnetic Device Better Detects Breast Cancer’s Spread
Approved in Europe, Middle East and Africa, US still waits
Houston, TX - A device co-developed by a University of Houston physicist to detect the spread of breast cancer and allow physicians to better plan intervention is extending its market reach, bringing it another step closer to clinical trials in the United States.
The detecting device, called the SentiMag, uses nano-sized, iron oxide particles which give off strong magnetic signals. Iron oxide particles are already used in MRI contrast agents and are known to be safe.
The iron oxide particles are injected into the patient’s breast tissue close to the tumor, and are carried by lymph fluid to the lymph nodes, where they accumulate. The resulting magnetic signal emitted by the iron oxide particles can be picked up using a hand-held detector, the SentiMag, making it easy to determine which lymph nodes the tumor is draining into and which should be removed for testing.
Doctors first look for the sentinel lymph node – the first lymph node under the arm that lymph fluid from the breast drains to. If breast cancer has spread to the lymph nodes, the sentinel lymph node is the most likely node to contain cancer cells.
In the United States, where the SentiMag is not yet approved for use, the current method of locating the sentinel node involves injecting a radioactive isotope into the patient’s breast, then in the operating room the surgeon uses a Geiger counter, called a gamma probe, to locate the lymph node with the highest radioactivity. Continue>
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