Wire localization of breast cancers can save lives

An ultrafine wire-based component that can help extract lumps in the breast – enables the early detection of a disease that kills hundreds of thousands of women every year.

In 2020, more than two million women across the world were diagnosed with breast cancer, according to statistics from the World Health Organization (WHO). Scientists and medical professionals agree that early detection of changes in the breast tissue can help save lives. Within Kanthal's parent company Sandvik Materials Technology (SMT), a new fine wire-based component branded EXERA® has been developed and surgeons can now localize and remove tissue changes at an early stage and help to bring down the mortality rate.

In one of the latest projects within SMT, research led to the fabrication of a wire used in lumpectomies, the surgical removal of breast lesions. Many changes in the breast tissue, particularly at the early stage of the disease, cannot be detected by hand when performing a manual examination – not even by trained medical staff. That’s why it’s so important to regularly have the breast-tissue scan known as mammography.

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If the mammography shows an abnormality, the surgeon needs to find and remove the lesion in a procedure known as a lumpectomy. Inserting the wire-component with the help of a needle, the surgeon can use a scan to guide the wire to the exact location. The design makes it possible for the surgeon to reposition the wire if needed.

The wire is fitted with a barb that opens once the wire has reached the right place, effectively grabbing hold of the lesion which can then be pulled out and sent for testing to check if the lesion is cancerous. Catching the disease at an early stage is considered crucial for increasing the success of subsequent treatment.

EXERA® medical wire-based components come in different lengths to accommodate for the size of the patient’s breast. Using the correct wire length right means the surgeon can reach as far into the breast tissue as required and make sure enough of the wire’s tail-end protrudes to facilitate the extraction.

There are two significant benefits to using wire localization compared to other procedures: The surgery is less invasive because less of the breast tissue must be removed. Secondly, the procedure keeps scarring to a minimum. All without compromising the accuracy of cancer detection.

The fine wire produced under the registered trademark EXERA® – some so thin that they are barely detectable to the human eye – are already used in several life-saving medical applications such as deep brain implants to control Parkinson tremors, glucose sensors for persons with diabetes, and in pace makers for heart patients.

To learn more about EXERA®, watch this introductory video.

Watch this introductory video

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