Male doctors have long had a fascination with the study of women’s breasts. For this reason, calls for research into breast cancer have attracted an unusually large number of scientists, and the work is finally starting to pay off.
Scientists in Maryland have developed a method for spotting breast cancer cells that they say has twice the accuracy of a pathologist’s microscope.
Reporting in the journal Clinical Cancer Research, Sara Sukumar and Mary Jo Fackler of the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center say their method can see what the eye can’t.
It involves screening body fluids for certain kinds of cells and then sifting through the cells’ DNA for chemical tags on certain genes associated with cancer.
In the study, the Johns Hopkins researchers used breast fluid to compare the cancer-detection rate of their test to a microscopic examination by a pathologist.
The pathologists correctly identified seven of 21 fluid samples containing cancer while the researchers identified 15 out of 21.
Now that we know the screening tool is effective in finding cancer cells within breast duct fluid, we need to improve the accuracy of obtaining the fluid, says Sukumar.