Cancer Research: System to Predict Treatment Outcome of Chemotherapy (Download PDF)


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Scientists developed a new system to non-invasively identify the breast cancer patients who would respond to chemotherapy within two weeks of beginning treatment. The novel dynamic “optical tomographic breast imaging system” generates three-dimensional (3-D) images of both breasts simultaneously.

Image of System to Predict Treatment Outcome of Chemotherapy

Image of System to Predict Treatment Outcome of Chemotherapy

Image of System to Predict Treatment Outcome of Chemotherapy

Working of New System

  • The images enable researchers to look at blood flow in the breasts, the vasculature changes, and interaction of blood with the tumour.

  • Helps distinguish malignant from healthy tissue and show how tumor is responding to chemotherapy earlier than other imaging techniques.

  • Researchers capture a series of images during a breath hold of at least 15 seconds, which inhibited the backflow of blood through the veins but not the inflow through the arteries.

  • Comparison of images with the patients’ outcomes after five months of chemotherapy found that aspects of the blood inflow and outflow could distinguish between patients who respond and those who do not respond to therapy.

How is Breast Cancer Treated?

  • Neoadjuvant chemotherapy, given for five to six months before surgery, is the standard treatment for newly diagnosed invasive, but operable, breast cancer.

  • Neoadjuvant chemotherapy eliminates active cancer cells - producing a complete response - before surgery.

  • Those achieving complete response have a lower risk of cancer recurrence. However, less than half of women treated with neoadjuvant chemotherapy achieve a complete response.

Advantage of the New System

  • Response to a treatment of a patient makes it possible to change treatment and avoid side effects. Thus helping the patient.

Why Does this Technique Work Only for Breasts

  • Breast tumors have a denser network of blood vessels than those found in a healthy breast. Thus, vasculature system in breasts holds the clue to finding the response.

  • Blood flows freely through healthy breasts, but in breasts with tumours, blood gets soaked up by the tumour, inhibiting blood flow.

What is Chemotherapy?

  • Chemotherapy is a type of cancer treatment using one or more anti-cancer drugs given as curative intent, prolong life or reduce symptoms.

  • Chemotherapy drugs interfere with a cancer cell’s ability to divide and reproduce. A single drug or a combination of drugs is used.

  • Drugs are delivered directly into the bloodstream, to attack cancer cells throughout the body, or are targeted to specific cancer sites.

  • Chemotherapy drugs kill cancer cells, but they also affect the vasculature inside the tumor. This is what makes this treatment work

- Published/Last Modified on: April 7, 2018

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