The Royal Marsden

Q&A: Magseed

Miss Katherine Krupa, Consultant Breast Surgeon, explains why The Royal Marsden is the first organisation in the UK to use a new technology to improve the experience of patients undergoing breast surgery
Miss Katherine Krupa, Consultant Breast Surgeon


What is Magseed?

Magseed is a marker that is placed into the patient to help guide surgeons during a breast lumpectomy for impalpable breast cancer. It is just 5mm long – smaller than a grain of rice.

Why do you need markers for breast cancers?

While some tumours are easy to feel, many – especially the ones detected through breast screening – are not palpable. We aim to remove the cancer as accurately as possible, so localising it in the breast is very important. Traditionally, we have used a wire as a marker, which requires a procedure a few hours before the operation. However, a Magseed can be placed into the breast up to 30 days in advance, allowing patients to go about their daily lives in the lead-up to their operation. The wire tip is not easy to feel in the breast, but Magseed takes us directly to the tumour.

How is a Magseed placed into a patient?

Like the wire, it is placed with the help of either ultrasound or a mammogram. It is simpler than having a biopsy – a needle is inserted into the tumour within the breast under local anaesthetic, and the seed is deployed.

How is a Magseed removed?

At the time of surgery, a magnetic probe is used to locate the marker. The Sentimag sensing machine makes sounds of different pitches and gives a reading to let us know how close we are to it. The seed is then removed along with the tumour.

How will this benefit patients?

The aim of using Magseed is to improve the patient experience. As they can have the marker inserted a few days in advance, it reduces their time in hospital and the number of procedures they need on the day of surgery. We hope that in the future, we can also use Magseed to mark the tumour and any lymph nodes prior to neoadjuvant treatment.