Here are 4 new breast cancer discoveries:
#1 Size does not matter
The rule of thumb when it comes to breast cancer, or any cancer for that matter, is to spot them early. When the cells are relatively small in size, the chances of eliminating them are higher. A new study has debunked this train of thought and answers the question of why mammograms are not saving more lives.
The study concludes that some cells are smaller in size not because they are found early, but because they are prone to slow growth. This means that the cells would take a long time, perhaps 15 to 20 years before they pose any threat. Instead, patients are put under stress and scare to get the cancer treated by going through unnecessary biopsies, chemotherapy and radiation.
However, to avoid underestimating the cancer cells, the long-term solution is to create new tests that would differentiate life-threatening cancer cells with the cells that should be watched, but not necessarily be treated immediately.
#2 Pregnancy is feasible for survivors
Being pregnant and swimming in hormones may increase the chance of breast cancer recurring in the survivors, thus forcing some women to completely shelve the idea of reproducing. However, a study done in Europe on 1,200 breast cancer survivors revealed reassuring news for patients who are inclined on having children post diagnosis and treatment.
Pregnancy is viable, following the conclusion that those who became pregnant were no more likely to have the cancer recur than those not having children. In addition, the possibility of breastfeeding is present as there were also reports of successful breastfeeding for some of the patients, albeit a small number.
#3 New needle-free device allows for self-administered healing
Following a mastectomy, patients will continue to see their doctors to follow through with reconstruction. Tissue extenders are placed under the chest wall and the doctor will inject saline into them for several months as the skin stretches. This is both invasive and time-consuming as only a certain amount can be injected at one time. The last thing a patient needs is more needles. Hence, why the new needle-free tissue expander device for women undergoing breast reconstruction will be a big hit. Instead of saline, it injects carbon dioxide and can conveniently be self-administered.
The patient can be in control of her own reconstructive healing and do it in less the time. Early trials of the deviceS suggested that it takes just 21 days from start to finish, versus 45 days with saline.
#4 Computers are able to identify invasive cancer cells
There may come a day when computers will take over the task of identifying and delineating breast cancer cells based on digital tissue slides. A research by Case Western Reserve University in Ohio has developed a deep-learning network, which was successful in accurately demarcating invasive cancerous cells from biopsy slides. In dealing with cancer where time and accuracy is of the essence, the network is a step towards automating biopsy analysis and improving its efficiency. In the study, the network was more accurate and consistent in its determination than that of four pathologists.
To note, it may take up to 20 years of practice and training for a pathologist to recognize complex cases, but it only takes two weeks for network training and determination of the cancer cells in 200 slides only took up to 25 minutes each. Researchers have hope that it will take less time and run more efficiently as computers have progressed in the last 2 years that they study was done. While transitioning towards a complete takeover, the pathologist may take up a reviewer role and let the network run its analysis in the background, perhaps during the night and ready in the morning. MIMS
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