Hospital: Breast removal rates "plummet" by iodine-seeding tumors

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The introduction of the iodine seed - a tumor detection technique - greatly improved breast cancer treatment for women and dramatically reduced the number of re-operations and mastectomies, according to the Catharina hospital in Eindhoven.

The iodine seed is a small seed that is placed in the tumor before a breast surgery under local anesthesia. It emits a low dose of radiation, with the aid of a gamma radiation detector, shows the exact location of the tumor. During the surgery, it enables the surgeon to quickly pinpoint location of the tumor, allowing for a more precise surgery.

"In situations where a mastectomy was chosen in the past, such as with multiple tumors in the breast, breast-conserving surgery can now be performed more frequently through this localization technique with iodine seeds", Yvonne van Riet, surgeon at the Catharina Hospital, explained in the hospital's press release.

The Catharina Hospital was the first hospital to implement the use of iodine seeds in 2003. Over the past 12.5 years, the hospital treated more than 1,500 in this way and saw the number of re-operations and breast removals "plummet" in this time.