High-tech microscope to help breast cancer patients; B.C. hospital foundation raising funds

Doctors use a microscope. (File photo)

A B.C. hospital is adding a new high-tech piece of equipment to its breast-health clinic, which could greatly improve the quality of life for women undergoing cancer treatment.

Two leading surgeons at the Jim Pattison Centre in Surrey will use a new ultra microscope that will allow them to see tiny lymph vessels. The removal of lymph nodes is common in treating breast cancer, which can lead to issues.

"Lymphedema is a problem that causes severe swelling of the limbs," said Dr. Jennifer Prince, a plastic surgeon. "When those lymph nodes are removed, patients can get severe swelling in their arm and that can have significant impact on their quality of life, their ability to function."

The equipment will allow experts to see and connect tiny lymph vessels to veins to create channels to drain the arm and reduce swelling.

Don Hickling, vice-president of leadership giving for the foundation, said he still remembers the day the head of the breast-health clinic said the facility could start a lymphedema program.

"It's very hard for women who overcome breast cancer going on to develop lymphedema," he told CTV News Vancouver. "Up to now there was really nothing they could offer them other than massage therapy."

The microscope and high-tech camera used with it will cost about $1.5 million. The Surrey Hospital Foundation is hoping to raise the money for the equipment by the end of the year.