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MIT radar technology fights breast cancer
Date:11/27/2007

ear the breast, kill the cancerous tissue while preserving normal breast tissue by targeting tumor cells that contain high amounts of both water and ions, Fenn explained. When the microwave energy passes through the tumor, the water molecules begin to vibrate and generate heat through friction. This process eventually elevates the cancer cells to a high fever of at least 108 degrees Fahrenheit in most cases, killing them.

The treatment is well tolerated, said Dr. Mary Beth Tomaselli, medical director at Comprehensive Breast Center in Coral Springs, Fla., and a surgeon who was also a co-investigator in the study. The patients who have gone through it had minimal side effects and positive results.

This is the fourth clinical trial of the therapy since 1999. In a Phase-I safety trial using microwave heat alone, researchers found that both small and large breast tumors could be decreased in size between 30 and 60 percent. In a Phase-II dose-escalation trial for small tumors, scientists increased the amount of heat until 100 percent of the tumor cells were killed, prior to the patients receiving a lumpectomy.

Next, researchers treated similar early-stage tumors and noticed that after the surgical removal, none of the patients had tumor cells remaining at the edge of the incision. This is important because additional breast surgery and/or radiation therapy are often recommended for patients that have cancer cells close to the edge of the lumpectomy surgical margin.

The treatment centers for the latest study, which focused on larger tumors, included Harbor-UCLA Medical Center in Torrance, Calif., the University of Oklahoma in Oklahoma City, Comprehensive Breast Center in Coral Springs, Fla., St. Josephs Hospital in Orange, Calif., and five additional sites. Celsion (Canada) Limited licenses the focused microwave thermotherapy technology from MIT, and has produced 10 clinical systems to date to perform the procedures.

The team
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Contact: Elizabeth Thomson
thomson@mit.edu
617-258-5402
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Source:Eurekalert

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