Safer option to remove breast lumps now available

PHOTO: Safer option to remove breast lumps now available

SINGAPORE - A more precise procedure to locate breast lumps that cannot be seen or felt in clinical examination is now available in Singapore.

The technique, pioneered by Raffles Medical Hospital, uses radioactive material to locate abnormal tissue growths in the breasts, which allows surgeons to perform quicker and more precise surgical removal.

Breast lumps can be an indicator of early stage breast cancer. An estimated 25 per cent of cancerous breast lumps cannot be felt with a physical examination.

As there is minimal removal of healthy breast tissue while ensuring the tumour is entirely removed, there is a higher chance of better cosmetic outcomes and breast conservation, said Dr Felicia Tan of Raffles Surgery Centre.

Called the Radio-isotope Occult Lesion Localisation (ROLL), the procedure also promises less discomfort and pain to the patient as compared to the current gold standard hookwire localisation.

Hookwire localisation involves placing a fine wire in the breast with its tip at the site of the abnormality.

This acts as a marker for the surgeon to know which area of the breast tissue to remove. It is known to have a high inaccuracy rate of up to 30 to 40 per cent, and can potentially injure the lungs during surgery.

It is also safer for clinical staff with no specific radiological protection required. However, the use of radioactive material means the procedure is not recommended for pregnant women, Dr Tan said.

Dr Tan is the pioneer of the procedure in the region. Since she first brought the technique to Singapore this year, Dr Tan has performed it successfully on 50 patients.