HCN News & Notes

Radioactive Seed Localization Breast Surgery Now Available at Baystate Noble Hospital

WESTFIELD — Breast surgeon Dr. Danielle Lipoff recently performed the first radioactive seed localization (RSL) breast surgery to be offered to patients at Baystate Noble Hospital.

Radioactive seed localization, previously available in the health system only at Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, is a leading-edge, more accurate technique replacing the standard wire-localization procedure for women with breast cancer who will undergo a lumpectomy.

Funding for the radioactive seed program at Baystate Noble was made possible with the donation of $100,000 from the Baystate Health Foundation with monies raised at the 2019 Baystate Noble Ball.

The technique employs advanced radiologic imaging, which allows surgeons to locate breast tumors and make more precise incisions, allowing them to remove the cancer in its entirety with minimal disturbance to the surrounding breast tissue. With the RSL procedure, a radiologist uses mammography to place a very low-energy radioactive seed, about the size of a grain of rice, into the abnormal tissue or tumor. During the surgery, the surgeon uses a handheld gamma probe (a device that detects radioactivity) to more precisely identify the location of the tumor. The gamma probe also allows the surgeon to obtain a three-dimensional view of the tumor’s location.

Because the surgeon can more accurately locate the tumor with RSL, it allows for a better surgical incision and also reduces the length of the surgery. In addition, studies show that RSL reduces the need to have a second surgery due to incomplete removal of the abnormal tissue.

“The Baystate Breast Surgery Program is thrilled to introduce the radioactive seed surgery program to Baystate Noble Hospital,” said Dr. Holly Mason, section chief for Breast Surgery at Baystate Health. “We remain committed to ensuring optimal care for our patients in Baystate’s Western Region. With the addition of the radioactive seed localization technique, along with the other breast surgeries done at Baystate Noble, the hospital is a preferred destination for breast surgery.”

Mason was the first breast surgeon in Western Mass. to perform the surgery at Baystate Medical Center after learning the technique from other surgeons at the Mayo Clinic.