Edward St John, Consultant Surgeon at The Royal Marsden

Edward St John, Consultant Surgeon at The Royal Marsden

Developed by Sirius Medical, a Netherlands Cancer Institute spin-off, Sirius Pintuition consists of a small magnetic seed - the size of a grain of rice - and a detector. It has been designed to help surgeons locate small and early-stage tumours which often cannot be felt and are becoming increasingly prevalent thanks to rapid improvements in breast cancer diagnostics and screening.

Ahead of breast cancer surgery, the seed is inserted by a radiologist into the patient’s breast so surgeons, using the detector to determine the seed’s location, can remove the cancerous tissue with precision. The device allows for millimetre accurate detection and delivers directional guidance so surgeons can easily and precisely locate the tumour.

Previously, metal anchor wires have been used to locate breast tumours. These need to be placed on the day of surgery and can cause discomfort to patients. Sirius Pintuition can be placed up to 180 days ahead of surgery and avoids the need for a wire to protrude out of patients’ chests before surgery. While there are similar products available, Sirius Pintuition offers intuitive millimetre-accurate guidance and is more affordable.

Sirius Pintuition is currently used by a growing number of hospitals in the Netherlands, including the Netherlands Cancer Institute in Amsterdam and Elisabeth-TweeSteden Hospital in Tilburg. The Royal Marsden is the first to use the device internationally and, if the local feasibility study is successful, it could be rolled out throughout the NHS.

The Royal Marsden’s breast unit is one of the largest of its type in the UK, with over 700 breast cancer surgeries performed every year.

Samantha Matthews (48, Surrey) was diagnosed with breast cancer in January at The Royal Marsden after finding a lump in her breast. The following day, a Pintuition Seed was placed in her breast to locate the tumour ahead of surgery on 8 February, when she became one of the first patients in the UK to be operated on using this system. Samantha said:

“I found a lump in my breast just after Christmas and, as I’ve had cysts in the past, I wasn’t worried initially. Fortunately, I decided to get checked anyway and my GP referred me to The Royal Marsden, where a biopsy and ultrasound confirmed it was breast cancer.

“Since then, I’ve felt strangely calm as my hospital team have been great, explaining everything really clearly and ensuring each step has been as fast as possible. For example, having the seed inserted ahead of surgery was quick and painless so I felt confident my surgeon could detect and remove the tumour without needing additional procedures on the day of my operation, which would have made me more anxious. I was able to leave after a few hours, which was perfect for me – you just feel better at home.

“The surgery itself was a success and the next stage of my treatment is radiotherapy. I was pleased to take part in this service evaluation as more women across the UK could soon benefit from this technology.”

Edward St John, Consultant Surgeon at The Royal Marsden, said:

“Sirius Pintuition is an exciting innovation in breast cancer surgery and, compared with traditional wire techniques, it’s far more patient-friendly and offers hospitals more flexibility. We are evaluating it to discover if it offers a more precise and efficient route to locating tumours during lumpectomies compared with other similar technologies.”

Bram Schermers, co-founder and inventor of Sirius Pintuition technology, said:

"We are very proud to collaborate with The Royal Marsden Hospital. This partnership is a pivotal moment for us, and we are happy that clinicians show confidence in our product. Sirius Pintuition is an intuitive and easy to use system that creates value for surgeons, hospitals and their patients."