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A New Route

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Researchers at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine are trying a new method for chemotherapy delivery in the treatment of breast cancer, reports ABC News' Carrie Gann — through the nipple. According to the new study the team published in Science Translational Medicine, this approach is more targeted and less toxic than usual chemotherapy delivery routes as it send the drugs directly into the breast tissue through the milk ducts. It is still too early to tell if this will work on large numbers of women as this study involved 17 women, Gann says. But their results suggest that this delivery route is effective in treating small, early-stage tumors. In addition, when the researchers tested this method in rats, the drugs not only eliminated tumors in the breast tissue but also seemed to prevent new tumors from forming, Gann says. "It's like putting Drano through a clogged ductal system. The entire system will be cleared of both visible and invisible cancer cells," study author Saraswati Sukumar tells Gann. "You're treating and also preventing the cancer." In the human participants, the researchers reported the side effects observed were moderate nipple pain and a heaviness in the breasts that dissipated after about an hour. This could possibly offer women at high risk for breast cancer a safer way to prevent tumors from forming, Gann says. The team plans to study large numbers of women with early-stage tumors to see if they can replicate their results, and to see which drugs are most effective with this delivery method, she adds.

The Scan

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