"Although radiation therapy is the standard treatment for breast cancer following surgery, it is expensive, time consuming and increases the cosmetic deformity caused by surgery," said Howard D. Edington, M.D., associate professor of surgery and surgical oncology at the University of Pittsburgh and faculty member at McGowan. "We sought to develop a possible alternative to radiation therapy that would not only release chemotherapy slowly to kill the cancerous cells left behind after surgery but that also would fill in the dimples and sometimes quite significant indentations that are common after breast surgery and radiation."

To test their idea, the researchers encapsulated a common breast cancer chemotherapy drug, doxorubicin, in micro spheres, or beads, and then mixed them with a gelatine made of a polymer substance. Mice with breast cancer tumours were treated by inserting the gel under the skin next to the mammary gland. The researchers found that they could successfully control the delivery of chemotherapy over a period of 30 days and that the tumours were completely eradicated compared to a control group of mice that were implanted with the gel insert without chemotherapy.

"Through further research and testing, our goal is to develop this into a clinical treatment for women undergoing breast cancer surgery," said Dr. Edington who also is chief of surgery at Magee-Women’s Hospital. "This treatment may help decrease the occurrences of breast deformity. With more studies under our belt, we believe this approach could eventually represent an alternative to breast radiation after surgery."

MEDICA.de; Source: University of Pittsburgh Medical Center