New technology could transform the lives of patients fighting breast cancer.
Scientists are exploring a technology that can kill some breast tumors without patients having to go under the knife, a breakthrough that promises to reshape the future of breast cancer treatment.
The Muse magnetic resonance guided focused ultrasound system uses magnetic resource imaging (MRI) to hunt down a breast tumor and burn it away with high-intensity focused ultrasound. It effectively cooks the cancer without affecting the tissue and organs around it.
Dr. Cindy B. Matsen, a surgeon and assistant professor at the University of Utah Huntsman Cancer Institute in Salt Lake City, said that “one of the things that is a challenge in breast cancer is that the tumors often, kind of, have, like, little arms or little tendrils that come out from them.”
The technology centers around a special table developed to help patients feel comfortable being in the MRI machine for a couple of hours, since that’s how long it takes the device to deliver ultrasound waves straight into the tumor, concentrating the energy into a point as tiny as a grain of rice.
Matsen said, “MRI is actually our most sensitive test for looking at breast tissue, so it gives us the advantage of being able to target tumors more accurately and precisely.”
It’s an outpatient procedure, and the patient is awake the entire time.
The Muse system is in clinical trials, but researchers hope it will only be a few years until this technology is available to replace surgery for some breast cancer patients.