How RFID Signals Are Improving Breast Cancer Surgery

Medical science has determined that early detection and treatment is the best way to prevent breast cancer from destroying so many lives. As such, scientists and researchers have been working on improving early detection and treatment methods. One of their most recent discoveries involves using RFID signals to improve breast cancer surgery.

According to California-based Rock West Solutions, RFID technology is the same technology that allows for seamless inventory tracking at your local big-box department store. RFID signals are what cause the store’s alarm system to go off if someone attempts to leave without paying. Indeed, RFID has proved invaluable in thousands of applications. Now it is being used to give hope to patients diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer.

What Happens after Detection

Doctors recommend women undergo regular mammograms as a way of catching breast cancers as early as possible. Unfortunately, some 60% to 75% of all breast cancers identified via mammogram would not have been detected otherwise. Why? Because the questionable tissue is so small that it cannot be felt. Self-examinations just don’t pick up the tumors.

The size of those tumors also make treatment more challenging. When surgery is the chosen treatment method, doctors have to utilize a procedure that involves the use of a hook line. It is not a pleasant procedure by any means.

How Hook Lines Work

A hook line is a small wire inserted into the breast after a mammogram has identified a potential tumor. The wire is inserted by threading it through a needle and then hooking it into the questionable tissue. The long wire is allowed to extend out through the breast until the patient is ready for surgery.

Most hook line procedures are carried out on the same day surgery is scheduled. Nonetheless, it is unpleasant for patients to have to go through it while they worry about surgery. And they aren’t the only ones who are not pleased with hook lines. Surgeons don’t like them either.

Surgeons must leave the lines intact until surgery begins so that they can actually find the tissue they need to remove. How a line is inserted partly dictates the method by which a tumor is removed, thereby limiting what the doctor can do. It’s no wonder surgeons are enthusiastic about the RFID procedure.

Replacing a Hook Line with RFID

Replacing a hook line with RFID technology is as simple as injecting an RFID tag into the tissue, where the hook line would have otherwise gone. The tag can be tracked in perpetuity with standard tagging equipment. That means it can be inserted weeks before surgery via a procedure that is a lot less discomfiting.

When it comes time for surgery, the surgeon can plan the route of removal without having to worry about a hook line being in the way. Moreover, the RFID signal provides a much more accurate picture of what the doctor is dealing with. This makes it easier to come up with a removal plan that offers the best chances of success while simultaneously lowering the risks.

RFID tags have already been used on a limited basis by the Cape Girardeau Surgical Clinic in Missouri. They have been a big hit thus far. Surgeons fortunate enough to have worked with the system say they never want to go back to hook lines.

Rock West staff are confident that RFID tags will be the future of breast cancer surgeries. If they prove up to the task, they might also be adapted for other kinds of cancer treatments. It is hard to imagine cancer patients being upset with that.

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