By Rolene Marks
Tatas, boobies, knockers, bazooms, tits, the twins, breasticles or whatever you like to call them, October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. A whole month has been dedicated to raising awareness of breast cancer but this is something that we should be aware of everyday. Did you know that one in eight women will develop this and it is the most common type of non-skin cancer?
Men are not immune to breast cancer either and reports of diagnoses are not uncommon. Early detection is imperative and the good news is that if diagnosed early enough it can be beaten!
Gents, you should also be doing the routine checks for lumps as well!
Although breast cancer seems to be more prevalent in Western Europe, Australia, New Zealand and Northern Europe, Israel has taken a leading role in researching causes, diagnostics, and treatments – with groundbreaking results!
Let’s explore some of the ways that Israel is leading in this field.
Israel’s Dune Medical Devices has developed an instrument to help women with breast cancer avoid undergoing dreaded follow-up surgery to remove residual cancer cells after a tumour is removed. It can be quite a long (and stressful) process waiting for results. This device is already being used by surgeons on patients in more than 100 hospitals in the US and in Israeli medical centers.
The MarginProbe device consists of a hand-held gadget that looks like a large pen or ultrasound instrument and a console. After the tumour is removed and while the patient is still on the operating table, the surgeon uses the probe to check the margins of the just-removed tissue. Sensors on the probe send signals to the tissue, and a further signal – both visual and acoustic – is then reflected back, indicating either positive, i.e. there are still cancerous cells on the margins, or negative, giving the all-clear to close up the patient.
“We have developed the only technology in the world that has a commercial product that allows surgeons in operating rooms, in real time, to check the margins of the tumour, identify cancerous tissue and decide on the spot if more tissue needs to be removed or not,” General Manager of Israeli Operations, Gal Aharonowitz, told The Times of Israel.
The IceSense is a medical device that is used to freeze tumours. Made by IceCure, the device is already being used by US doctors to destroy benign lumps.
The cryoablation process takes five or ten minutes under local anesthesia in a doctor’s office, clinic or breast center. No recovery period or post-care is necessary and there is no scarring!
Tel Aviv University (TAU) researchers embarked on a research project aimed at trying to block a cancer cell’s ability to change shape and move. In their research, they delivered microRNAs (small RNA molecules) to primary tumours in mice to halt the spread of cancer. Cancer cells spread by altering their structure in order to squeeze past other cells, enter blood vessels and travel to organs like lungs, the brain or others.
The researchers explored the mutations in a tumour to identify precisely which ones to target. The scientists then procured an RNA-based drug to control cell movement and created a safe nano-vehicle with which to deliver the microRNA to the tumour site.
Of Mice And Men
Two weeks after initiating cancer in the breasts of their rodent “patients”, the researchers injected a hydrogel into primary tumor sites that contained naturally occurring RNAs to target the movement of cancer cells from primary to secondary sites. Two days after this treatment, the primary breast tumours were destroyed.
The mice were evaluated three weeks later using CT imaging, fluorescent labeling, biopsies and pathology. The researchers discovered that the mice that had been treated with two different microRNAs had very few or no metastatic sites, whereas the control group — injected with randomly scrambled RNAs — exhibited a fatal proliferation of metastatic sites.
If it could be successful in mice, imagine how it could be adapted to humans!
These are just a snapshot of the many ways that Israel is contributing in the fight against Breast Cancer.
So, wear your pink ribbon with pride this month and make sure that whatever you decide to call them, you check your breasts regularly.