RICHMOND, Va. -- Laura Bateman was diagnosed with breast cancer in March. The government and public relations consultant was relieved when it was caught early.
“It's just the C-word. The cancer word. It's scary,” Bateman said. “I'm just so thankful I got a mammogram when I did.”
Bateman is one of about 60,000 women diagnosed every year with a very specific pre-invasive form of cancer that’s caught during the early stages. It’s called DCIS, ductal carcinoma in situ, because it hasn’t spread beyond the milk duct.
“We don't know whether in that DCIS is hiding some invasive cancer that may access to the lymph channels,” VCU Massey Cancer Center Chief of Breast Surgery Dr. Kandace McGuire said.
In order to find out, Dr. McGuire says the previous procedure was to remove all the lymph nodes and biopsy them But now for some women, the lymph nodes can be spared.
Massey is the first in Virginia to use Magtrace, which is a dye injected into the breast before a mastectomy, tracing the path the cancer would travel. The dye can stay longer in the body. Doctors are looking to see if invasive cancer has spread to the underarms.
“If a woman does not have invasive cancer, we keep those lymph nodes completely 100 percent intact and what that does is prevent lymphedema,” Dr. McGuire exlained.
Lymphedema can cause swelling in the arm.
“The swelling in the arm is not just a cosmetic problem, it could become a functional problem,” Dr. McGuire explained.
Dr. McGuire has done the Magtrace procedure on 10 patients. It was successful for nine of them, including Bateman.
“I was so relieved it worked just as she thought it would and she didn't have to take any lymph nodes,” said Bateman, who had a mastectomy.
Magtrace is not currently approved by the FDA for a lumpectomy.
On the 6th of the month, CBS 6 and VCU Massey Cancer Center remind women to contact their buddy to remind them to conduct a monthly breast self-exam. If it is time, you should also schedule an annual clinical breast exam and mammogram, which are key to early detection.