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Micro marker helps pinpoint breast cancer in new St Joe’s procedure    

Cancer survivor Angela Alexander-Roper and husband

 

A 74-year-old Hamiltonian is one of the first breast cancer patients at St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton to be treated with a new technology that pinpoints cancer’s precise location.

In the past, St. Joe’s radiologists would insert a low-dose radioactive marker or a small wire into the abnormal tissue of breast cancer patients. These interventions can be uncomfortable and there may be anxiety due to the use of a radioactive marker. But now, the MOLLI Marker® — the size of a sesame seed — is implanted to mark a patient’s lesion, eliminating safety concerns from radiation and creating a more comfortable experience.

MOLLI Surgical’s new technology features the smallest localization marker available for use on soft tissues. The MOLLI Wand® detects the MOLLI Marker — much like a GPS — helping surgeons pinpoint lesions more efficiently and with improved accuracy, translating into better surgical options and an improved experience for all before, during and after surgery.

This new technique allows St. Joe’s surgeon Dr. Peter Lovrics to create a smaller incision and better target the cancer cells. Since May 2022, MOLLI® has been used for all localization procedures by St. Joe’s due to its ease of use and improved experiences for doctors and patients.

“MOLLI is improving the breast cancer treatment experience for both patients and clinicians,” said Dr. Lovrics. “Because it is more advanced at localizing cancers, people with breast cancer can feel more at ease knowing that their surgery will be easier, faster and more precise. We hope to introduce MOLLI throughout the region as a way of moving past radioactive seed technology, and incorporate its use into other soft-tissue cancer treatment.”

The 74-year-old patient, Angela Alexander-Roper, credits her swift recovery, virtual absence of pain, small bruise and a tiny upside-down smile scar to MOLLI.

“Finding the lump was one of the most frightening things I’ve experienced. I’m very grateful to anybody who had any part in creating the seed and making it accessible for people with breast cancer,” she said. “It went directly in; Dr. Lovrics was able to cut the tissue and get all the margins. He was even able to tell my husband straight away that they had got it all. Afterward, Dr. Lovrics told me, ‘Go ahead, live your life!’ and it was all because of that little marker.”

After a short but frightening experience facing cancer for the first time, Angela is taking Dr. Lovrics’ words to heart. She recentlyMolli.jpg returned from a five-week vacation with her husband, and is looking forward to continuing spending time with her four children and 13 grandchildren.

“St. Joe’s is committed to building a breast diagnostic centre of excellence,” said Dr. Lovrics. “With the help of our technology partners like MOLLI Surgical and others, and the support of our community, we’ll be able to improve outcomes for the patients we serve.”

“MOLLI has significantly decreased stress in our patients,” said Dr. Colm Boylan, Chief of Diagnostic Imaging at St. Joe’s. “The process is simpler, more efficient and requires fewer staff to be present, which creates a calm environment. We know that many patients with radioactive markers experienced anxiety due to risks of radiation emissions. They often avoided contact with family, whom they need for support. MOLLI is a tremendous advancement for treating one of the most common cancers affecting Canadians.”

Right now, the hospital is working with St. Joseph’s Healthcare Foundation to actively raise funds for vital medical equipment that will create a one-stop centre of excellence that supports patients with breast cancer every step of the way — from diagnosis to treatment to recovery and remission. Funds raised will help purchase essential technology, including Contrast Enhanced Mammography and MRI Breast Coils, to enhance the detection of breast cancer more definitively and at its earliest stages so that patients like Angela will get the answers they need sooner, and have the best possible health outcome.

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