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Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Lee Health is starting to reschedule appointments, surgeries, and procedures that were delayed during the pandemic. You can be confident that we will provide the most exceptional care in the safest environment. Learn More

Simplifying Breast Cancer Surgery - Oncology

A new device is simplifying the way surgeons locate and remove breast cancer. The new technology came out in December and health experts with Lee Memorial Health System are the first to have it available to patients in Southwest Florida. Dr. Rie Aihara, a breast surgeon on staff at Lee Memorial Health System, says the new device now requires surgeons to use their eyes and ears to locate breast cancer. “This is a, what we call, a localization technique for our breast tumors that we excise on the day of the surgery.” When it comes to removing breast cancer, surgeons say their biggest challenge is often locating the abnormal mass. “Most breast cancers, now that we’re detecting early, cannot be felt from the outside and you can’t visualize it from the outside. So we’re really dependent on a marker that’s placed by the radiologist to identify that abnormal part of the breast tissue,” said Dr. Aihara. Previously, radiologists would use a mammogram or an ultrasound to place a wire into the lesion on the breast the day of surgery. It’s a process that could take hours and be uncomfortable for the patient. “That tends to be the worst part of the day for the woman going through that procedure,” said Dr. Aihara. Often surgeons will still have trouble pin pointing the exact location of the abnormal tissue. “Even though we have mammograms to help us guide where it’s going to be, we can’t see the tip of the wire,” said Dr. Aihara. But the chip, which can be placed up to seven days before surgery, can help guide the surgeon to the cancer. “They insert a needle into that area and basically drop the marker right into that spot,” said Dr. Aihara. The chip is removed during surgery. View More Health Matters video segments at Lee Memorial Health System in Fort Myers, FL is the largest network of medical care facilities in Southwest Florida and is highly respected for its expertise, innovation and quality of care. For nearly a century, we’ve been providing our community with everything from primary care treatment to highly specialized care services and robotic assisted surgeries. Visit