Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Two new breast cancer devlopments worth watching

A few intersting things in the press about breast cancer.

First, a new technique of ultrasound imaging of breast masses called "Elasticity Imaging" is being described. It attempts to characterize mass as benign or malignant based on the degree to which it can be manually compressed and the speed with which it resumes it's original shape. The potential benefit of this is that it avoids requiring obtaining a tissue biopsy (by a surgeon or radiologist)and evaluation by a pathologist. The risk is that ultrasound is very dependent upon the skill and subjective judgement of the user. The accuracy of this is still being evaluated in larger clinical trials which will compare the ultrasound interpretation to the actual biopsy reports.

Second, RU-486 ("the abortion pill") has shown the potential to signifigantly reduce the development of breast cancers in mice who are bred with the BRCA-1 gene, which is one that causes breast cancer in women by causing the hormone progesterone to more actively stimulate breast tissue proliferation. More than half of women with this gene will develop breast or ovarian cancer by age 70.

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