SPY machine a saving grace for breast cancer patients | Chris O'Brien Lifehouse
 In Lifehouse News, Patient Stories

Jenny was diagnosed with a DCIS (ductal carcinoma in situ) in one of her breasts just weeks before Christmas last year. After her initial breast specialist explained to her a long and arduous surgery plan, including multiple follow-up procedures and no chance of saving her nipples, Jenny wanted a second opinion.

It was a friend of hers that suggested she see breast surgeon Associate Professor Sanjay Warrier at Chris O’Brien Lifehouse.

“After I explained to Sanjay what I’d been told by the other specialist he said ‘That doesn’t have to happen. We cut underneath and, using our SPY machine, we’re able to retain the nipple.’”

The SPY Elite Fluorescence Imaging System allows surgeons like Sanjay to accurately track blood flow through the breast tissue during tumour removal and reconstructive surgery. Donor funded, the SPY machine has so far made great strides in A/Prof. Warrier’s operating theatre. The imaging system drastically reduces the risk of cell death in the breast tissue, a common complication in breast cancer surgery.

“Sanjay explained to me how the SPY machine worked. As a patient, being able to visually see what the machine does and how it works was really helpful. The way Sanjay deals with patients is so valuable in terms of explaining the procedure and what patients should expect upfront.”

Thanks to A/Prof Warrier, his team and the SPY machine, Jenny had a double mastectomy and a full reconstruction, leaving both nipples intact. She returned home to her family soon after surgery and has since gone back to work.

“I just felt really good going into it because I had a lot more information than I would have otherwise. Often in those situations you don’t know what to ask but the team at Chris O’Brien Lifehouse told me everything, what will happen, how it will feel – everything.”

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