Women with denser tumor fiber patterns would likely stand a greater chance of needing lymph node biopsy and removal and inspection of such tissue for malignant cells, says Glunde, an associate professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine Russell H. Morgan Department of Radiology and the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center.
Glunde says complications from lymph node biopsy and more invasive dissection include risk of infection, pain, severe swelling and leakage of lymph fluid around the armpit, as well as stiffening in the arm, which can be permanent. An estimated 230,000 Americans were diagnosed in 2011 with invasive breast cancer, while another 57,000 were found to have noninvasive, or in-situ breast cancer.
Cancer imaging experts have known for more than a decade that the fibrous connective tissue located between cancer cells changes and bunches together as tumors grow and disease spreads, says study co-investigator Zaver Bhujwalla, Ph.D., a professor at Johns Hopkins and its Kimmel Cancer Center.
"Until now, however, we had no proof in principle that such minute and progressive changes outside cancer cells, in the tumor micro-environment or extracellular matrix, could be measured and potentially used to better guide our staging and treatment decisions," says Bhujwalla, who also serves as director of the Johns Hopkins In Vivo Cellular and Molecular Imaging Center (ICMIC), where the latest imaging study was performed.
It was also at ICMIC in 2010, supported with funds from the U.S. National Cancer Institute (NCI), that Glunde, Bhujwalla and fellow study co-investigator Meiyappan Solaiyappan, B.S., developed the specialized computer software used to analyze the microscopic spaces between tumor collagen fibers and calculate their density.
The tissue fiber images were obtained using an optical imaging technique called second harmonic generation microscopy, in which a long-wavelength laser light
|Contact: David March|
Johns Hopkins Medicine