Magseed technology at SLMHC significantly impacting breast cancer patient care

The Magseed marker and Sentimag guidance system for breast cancer treatment has been purchased by SLMHC Foundation, thanks to public donations received through its 50/50 draws.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and ideal timing calls for the celebration of a wonderful addition, Magseed technology at Sioux Lookout Meno Ya Win Health Centre (SLMHC)!

During the summertime, SLMHC’s surgical team submitted the funding request, after receiving a demonstration from the Endomag company, which was promptly approved by SLMHC Foundation. The entire process happened quickly. Surgeons are especially pleased with the efficiency of the training and trial period which occurred after receiving the product in August.

“The trialing process was fairly straightforward,” said Dr. Justin Poling, surgeon at SLMHC. “We basically just booked a whole bunch of cases and brought in the entire team with the product rep and the radiologist; then, got everybody lined up. We just kind of had a nice alignment of circumstances and it worked out really well for us. We were able to get it up and running, and it worked beautifully.”

In October, after many considerations, including a detailed approval process required by the Foundation, the Magseed marker and Sentimag guidance system, used for breast cancer treatment is operational. Its wire technology provides accuracy and pinpoint localization leading up to breast cancer surgery, ensuring a less-invasive experience. This innovative equipment also decreases the need for additional follow-up surgeries.

SLMHC is one of the first rural health care centres in Canada to adopt and lead this technology. The Foundation immediately recognized ample benefits this equipment could provide to mitigate patient care challenges created by Sioux Lookout’s remote location.

“It ensures that patients who come from our vast catchment area will be provided treatment right here in Sioux Lookout,” said Rita Demetzer, Foundation Treasurer, while talking about the Foundation’s enthusiasm for the Endomag technology. “It will ensure women won’t have to travel further for surgeries that determine whether cancer is present and where it exists within the breast.”

Significant benefits include decreased stress and discomfort for patients. Timing is also critical when coordinating procedures with radiologists, and sometimes a diagnostic procedure is required within hours of surgery, meaning hours spent on the road by patients the night before.

“The biggest advantage is actually to patients,” said Poling. This is because previously, all breast procedures needed to be scheduled around dates that Dr. Panu, the radiologist at SLMHC was available. “Dr. Panu would do the localization, and then we would have to remove the localization technology (guide wires) right away. The wires can’t just stay in the breast. Basically, once they go in, the surgery has to happen on the same day. Alternatively, patients would have to drive to Thunder Bay, get a guide wire put in with dressings on it to make sure it didn’t move, and then they would have to drive back to Sioux Lookout to be operated on either the same day or the next day.”

Each patient will now access this service locally, limiting the need to travel outside of Sioux Lookout for required procedures leading up to breast cancer removal surgery. In fact, several surgeries that are normally needed leading up to and following the main procedure for cancer removal, will be eliminated. Between thousands of kilometres patients spend travelling and an abundance of surgical procedures performed by medical professionals, the resource savings is countless and makes the $95,000 cost seem miniscule.

“When the Foundation learned about the benefits of this technology and the positive impact it will have for patients we serve, we were thrilled to provide the funds and make this happen for SLMHC,” explained Demetzer. “We couldn’t do this kind of important work without our supporters and really appreciate everyone who has purchased 50/50 tickets this past year. This really was made possible by each ticket buyer and we couldn’t do this without you. Thank you for your support!”

The SLMHC Foundation is humbled by public support and generosity through donations to the lottery fund, which made this possible. October’s attribution to breast cancer awareness inspired the Foundation to designate all contributions from the Oct. 13 jackpot to this specific equipment, improving each patient’s experience with breast cancer. SLMHC is so thankful for your support in this way of proving quality care in Sioux Lookout! Learn more about mammography and other breast imaging technology at SLMHC on the SLMHC website. To learn more about the Foundation and the important work we do, as well as our ongoing monthly 50/50 draws, visit