New detection method being developed
Researchers at Harvard Medical School are working on a method to distinguish between malignant tumors and benign masses in breast tissue. Malignant breast tumors have a higher percent of a calcium salt called hydroxyapatite, while in benign tumors there is more calcium oxalate. The researchers are developing a contrast agent that binds just to the calcium salt in the malignant tumors and then using optical tomography they can “reconstruct a three-dimensional image of tissues deep inside the breast”. Unfortunately human trials are still a few years away but when or if it becomes available for use it will be especially helpful for women with more dense breasts whose cancer is difficult to detect with mammograms.
New recommendations for women with cancer found in one breast
A big story this week has been the new recommendation that women with a recent diagnosis of cancer in one breast should have an MRI of their other breast. In their study 3.1% of women with cancer in one breast were found to have cancer in their other breast even though a mammogram didn’t previously detect it.
Women whose breast cancer is negative for the three significant markers – 1) estrogen receptor (ER), 2) human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2), and 3) progesterone receptor (PR) – sometimes referred to as “triple negative” cancers are more likely to be African American or Hispanic, under 40 years old, with a lower socioeconomic status. These types of tumors are more likely to be aggressive and deadly.
A study at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center shows that 44% surgeons “do not refer the majority of their breast cancer patients to a plastic surgeon prior to the initial surgery”. Older women in the UK may not be getting the best treatment for breast cancer according to a study in the British Journal of Cancer. They seem to have a lower chance of receiving primary surgery, undergoing axillary node surgery and undergoing steroid receptor tests, lowering their odds of survival.
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