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New Pill Lightens up Tumour Cells in Breast Cancer

A new pill will lighten up tumourous cells in breast cancer cases to distinguish exactly between cancerous and benign growths, paving the way for a major shift from the current breast cancer screening methods which fail often to pinpoint lumps from benign to cancerous growth.

"Screening can potentially catch the disease early in some patients, but false positives can lead to unnecessary, aggressive treatments in patients who don’t need them," said Greg Thurber of the University of Michigan in the US.

Currently, mammograms screen breast tissue through X-rays and they give doctors information about a lump’s location and size, but they can not distinguish between cancerous and benign ones which requires further tests such as biopsies, involving surgery and still not 100 percent perfect.

Several patients and doctors begin treatment once suspicious lumps are found, and the painful period ranges from radiation or chemotherapy or surgery, which can take months and leave behind severe side effects. The new pill will help doctors to determine patients who really need treatment and those who do not.

The new pill containing an imaging agent that selectively binds to cancer cells or blood vessels that are unique to tumours will highlight the affected tissue giving clue to doctors about the dye fluoresces under near infrared light. Although at this wavelength, fluorescent tumours can only be detected 1 to 2 centimetres deep, pairing the technique with ultrasound in the same instrument should be able to detect most cancers, Greg Thurber said.

Tested in mice, the formulation’s 50 to 60% was absorbed into the bloodstream and it was able to bind specifically to cancer cells with little background noise in the image. The fluorescent signal from the tumour was far stronger than the signal from other issues.

If the team succeeds to develop the oral pill, the results will save several thousands of women who were found to be cancerous merely because of their dense breast tissues reflecting in mammograms.

[tags, breast cancer, pill, lights, cancerous cells, signal, mammogram, women health news, hope,]

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