The procedure, known as Radioactive Seed Localization, is less invasive than the current method that uses wire localization. In that more traditional surgery, physicians mark the small breast cancer's location by inserting a wire that is partially outside of the breast, which can lead to movement of the wire and therefore jeopardize the surgeon's ability to remove the cancer completely. As described by Memorial Sloan-Kettering, Radioactive Seed Localization (RSL)
begins with a breast radiologist injecting one or two tiny, sealed radioactive sources called seeds into the patient’s breast to mark the exact location of the cancer. In the operating room, surgeons use a handheld radiation-detection device developed specifically for this procedure to zero in on the seed and precisely locate the cancer, which is removed along with the seed during the operation. No radioactivity is left in the body after the surgery.
By being more exact in placement, and eliminating possibility for accidentally shifting the marker, physicians have made it much easier for patients to receive efficient care - without having to come back for more procedures to continue to try to excise the same small tumors repeatedly. By capturing various elements surrounding the surgical procedure - outcomes, patients' satisfaction, scheduling conflicts - physicians are able to better understand current situation and then mark what results from their actions. Measurement yields improvement - but first one needs to measure. Only by comparing this information - by gathering this data to see what effects our actions will have - are we able to proceed from an enlightened stance and progress towards treatments that are less time-consuming and more exact.