Health Watch

Promising results for breast cancer patients

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Breast Cancer Awareness Month is coming to a close on something of a hopeful note. It's all because of a new possibility in fighting the disease. It involves pumping cancer-fighting medicine right to the tumor, therefore reducing the need for more radical treatments.

As ABC's Doctor Richard Besser reports, results from initial tests are encouraging.

The idea is simple -- attack the cancer in the breast with a direct hit. That's what the researchers at Johns Hopkins University, along with breast cancer specialist Dr. Susan Love, are trying to do could. They pump medicine right to the tumor, avoiding having to remove part of the breast or sending toxic chemotherapy throughout a women's body.

"Right now the treatment is surgery, trying to cut it out -- pretty blindly -- and then radiation and then hormone treatment," said Dr. Susan Love, "But if this kind of treatment could really work we could eliminate the need to have a mastectomy and really just squirt the treatment down the ducts like draino and clean them out."

Forty-thousand women a year could use this treatment.

The ducts are where most breast cancers begin. So doctors would take a thin catheter and thread it into the women's duct creating a passageway that lets them deliver medicines directly to those tumor cells.

Susannah Wolf was part of this cutting-edge study which was just testing to see if this delivery system would be safe. She had stage-two breast cancer and knew she would have a double mastectomy. But before her surgery, she volunteered.

The results are encouraging. It showed no major side effects in patients like Susannah, and it's worked to knock out the cancer in animals.

"This change in treatment is not that far away I would say in the next 5 to 10 years we should see it in the clinic," said Dr. Richard Besser.

(Copyright ©2014 KFSN-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

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