Breast Cancer - New System Reduces Need For Extra Surgeries

A team of chemists, radiologists and surgeons at the University of California, San Diego, have collaborated to develop a new and highly accurate system of marking breast cancer tissue prior to surgery, that is predicted to significantly reduce the need for second surgeries, as well as reducing the discomfort to patients prior to surgery.

This new system involves the use of microscopic gas filled spheres made of silica, which may be precisely located in clusters of abnormal cells, by being injected into the abnormal tissue using thin needles. The spheres are reportedly quite robust, which enables them to be injected into the abnormal tissue by radiologists even days before the surgery. During the surgery, the precise location of these spheres will be revealed in three dimensions through the use of ultrasound scans, allowing surgeons to easily locate and remove all the affected tissue, reducing the need for second surgeries.

William Trogler, a Professor of Chemistry commented on this new development and its potential: “These little gas-filled microbubbles stick to human breast tissue for days and can be seen with ultrasound. If doctors placed them in early stage breast cancer, which is difficult to see during surgery, they could help surgeons remove all of it in the first operation.” This new marking technique is expected to significantly improve the success of breast cancer surgery, and although tests of this system in animal models are currently being carried out, toxicology studies will also need to be carried out before clinical trials in humans are approved. Most experts are optimistic about this new system however, and many are convinced that this new system will allow breast cancer surgery to be carried out more effectively.

Sarah Blair, a Surgeon at Moores UCSD Cancer Center also shared her views on the potential of the new system: “By outlining the tumor more completely in multiple directions, the particles could potentially help surgeons remove non-palpable tumors in a single operation. They will definitely make the operation more comfortable for patients.”

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