05 December 2007

Nuking Tumors

You won't find this in a cookbook...

Heating breast-cancer cells with focused beams of microwave energy after chemotherapy can significantly shrink and kill tumors, according to results from a new clinical trial. The treatment increases blood flow into tumors, allowing chemotherapy drugs to more easily invade cancer cells.

...researchers aimed to use the microwave treatment in combination with chemotherapy to shrink tumors enough to allow patients to undergo lumpectomy--breast-conserving surgery--rather than radical mastectomy, or removal of the breast.

Fifteen of 28 patients received two cycles of chemotherapy, followed a few hours later by thermotherapy... After the combined treatments, 14 of the patients' tumors decreased enough for lumpectomy: the volume of the tumor shrank by about 88 percent, compared with 59 percent in patients who received chemotherapy alone.

The researchers estimate their method to get FDA approval around 2010. The obvious question: will it be effective for other types of tumors?

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