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Radar Research Leads to New Breast Cancer Treatment

The science behind it was first focused on detecting missiles in space

WEDNESDAY, April 21, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- MIT radar research originally focused on detecting missiles in space is the basis for a new breast cancer treatment that shows promise in the final phase of clinical testing.

In this treatment, external microwave energy is directed at tumors before a women has a lumpectomy to kill tumor cells and reduce the need for more surgery after the lumpectomy.

The preliminary results of the study found women who had this new treatment before a lumpectomy had a 43 percent reduction in the incidence of cancer cells found close to their lumpectomy surgical margins.

Women who have cancer cells close to the edge of the lumpectomy surgical margin often require additional surgery and/or radiation therapy.

These preliminary results are based on 64 women who have completed the study. The results will be presented April 21 at the International Congress on Hyperthermic Oncology in St. Louis.

"One of the primary objectives of this randomized study is to demonstrate that heat can affect and kill early-stage breast cancer cells prior to surgery," principal investigator William C. Dooley, director of surgical oncology at the University of Oklahoma Breast Institute, said in a prepared statement.

"With this focused heat treatment, it may be possible for the surgeon to provide better margins for the patient and possibly avoid additional treatment procedures and avoid recurrence of the cancer," Dooley said.

More information

The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more about breast cancer.

SOURCE: MIT, news release, April 21, 2004
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