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New system can predict chemotherapy outcome

Press Trust of India  |  \R Washington 

Scientists have developed a new system that can non-invasively identify which breast patients will respond to within two weeks of beginning treatment.

The system generates 3D images of both breasts simultaneously, and enables the researchers to look at blood flow in the breasts, see how the vasculature changes, and how the blood interacts with the

"There is currently no method that can predict treatment outcome of early on in treatment, so this is a major advance," said Andreas Hielscher, at in the US.

"This helps us distinguish malignant from healthy tissue and tells us how the is responding to earlier than other imaging techniques can," said Hielscher.

Neoadjuvant chemotherapy, given for five to six months before surgery, is the standard treatment for some women with newly diagnosed invasive, but operable, breast

The aim of neoadjuvant is to eliminate active cells - producing a complete response - before

Those who achieve a complete response have a lower risk of recurrence than those who do not.

However, fewer than half of women treated with neoadjuvant achieve a complete response.

"Patients who respond to neoadjuvant have better outcomes than those who do not, so determining early in treatment who is going to be more likely to have a complete response is important," said Dawn Hershman, of the Breast Programme at the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Center in the US.

"If we know early that a patient is not going to respond to the treatment they are getting, it may be possible to change treatment and avoid side effects," said Hershman.

The researchers had suspected that looking at the vasculature system in breasts might hold a clue. have a of blood vessels than those found in a healthy breast.

Blood flows freely through healthy breasts, but in breasts with tumours, blood gets soaked up by the tumour, inhibiting blood flow. drugs kill cells, but they also affect the vasculature inside the

The team thought they might be able to pick optical clues of these vascular changes, since blood is a strong absorber of light.

The researchers analyzed imaging data from 34 patients with invasive breast between June 2011 and March 2016.

The patients comfortably positioned their breasts in the optical system, where, unlike mammograms, there was no compression.

Researchers captured a series of images during a breath hold of at least 15 seconds, which inhibited the backflow of blood through the veins but not the inflow through the arteries.

The researchers then compared the images with the patients' outcomes after five months of

They found that various aspects of the blood inflow and outflow could be used to distinguish between patients who respond and those who do not respond to therapy.

"If we can confirm these results in the larger study that we are planning to begin soon, this imaging system may allow us to personalize breast treatment and offer the treatment that is most likely to benefit individual patients," said Hershman.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Mon, February 12 2018. 15:25 IST