SCOUT® System

Ask the St. Elizabeth Expert: How Does the SCOUT® System Help Breast Cancer Survivors?

EDGEWOOD, KY (WKRC) - A new breast cancer surgical guidance system may help survivors with easier healing and breast preservation.

Cathy "Chick" Halloran says working in the St. Elizabeth Women's Wellness Boutique in Edgewood is not a career: It's a calling.

"I can let them know that God does have plans in store for them much bigger than what the picture is in the present," Halloran said.

She knows that because she is now a 17-year breast cancer survivor.

"I had a mastectomy, and then I had eight months of chemotherapy, and then I had 10 years of aromatase inhibitors," she said.

Quite often, however, when cancer is initially discovered in the breast, surgery to remove only the cancerous tumor, or a lumpectomy, is suggested. To do that, Dr. Michael Guenther says his team needs to know where to find it. They do that through localization.

"That has for years been done with a wire. The day of surgery, the radiologist will place a wire into the general area of where the tumor is, and then we follow that wire and then remove it," said Dr. Guenther.

Now, something new can be used instead. The St. Elizabeth cancer team is among the first in the country to use the Scout Breast Localization and Surgical Guidance System. It's a small reflector that reflects micro-radar waves from a small probe in the operating room.

Here's how it works:

During a biopsy or sometime prior to surgery, a reflector is inserted into the breast.

"That is what's deployed in the breast. It's not palpable, and obviously it's not something that you can see or feel. It's detectable by bouncing a little radar wave off of it, and it helps us determine how deep the legion is within the breast and where exactly it is," said Dr. Guenther.

During surgery, the the breast is scanned using the Scout guide. It emits tiny pulses to lock on to the reflector's position.

"It's very small; it's smaller than a grain of rice, but what it allows people to do is have a much less delay in surgery, much less delay the day they're at surgery, and it also helps the surgeon be more precise in what they remove, because we know exactly where the tumor is," he said.

This not only can lead to better surgical outcomes, but the need to remove less breast tissue, which for survivors can also lead to a better cosmetic result.