Can breast cancer be detected early?

The mammary gland is said to be the mirror of the entire female body. According to statistics, the cancerous tumor on this mirror is not some harmless speck of dust, but dangerous corrosion that can destroy the body. Of every hundred thousand Russians, 43 are familiar with a dangerous ailment firsthand. Every year, the number of newly sick women in Russia exceeds 52 thousand. A terrible disease kills more than 22 thousand, leaving 47 children orphaned daily. 

Statistics say that the risk of developing breast cancer increases with age. But in reality, perhaps, the risk of getting sick is not so much the probability of diagnosing the disease. The period of development of the disease from the appearance in the female body of the first cancer cell to the moment when the tumor reaches a volume of 1 cubic meter. see, it takes up to 18 years of life, during which the illness practically does not manifest itself.

Does it need to be reminded how important in such conditions the early diagnosis of breast cancer? But, unfortunately, to date, there is no technique at the disposal of physicians that can unambiguously and quickly find cells and tumors in the early stages of their development. Perhaps the situation will change in the near future thanks to the work of scientists from the University of Oxford. 

Metal isotope analysis is a well-known tool for studying climate change and the history of planet formation. Researchers from Oxford tried to use it to study the human body and for the first time in the world received an amazing result. It turned out that changes in the isotopic composition of zinc found in breast tissue can become a biological indicator of early cancer. The work report was published in the journal Metallomics of the Royal Chemical Society. 

Scientists analyzed the isotopic composition of zinc in the blood, serum and breast tissue of five cancer patients and five healthy women. Using methods that are 100 times more sensitive than those available to ordinary doctors today, researchers were able to detect differences in isotopic composition even when cancer only slightly affects the ability of cells to change metal.

In one case, scientists were able to detect similar changes in the isotopic composition of copper. According to researchers, this confirms the possibility of early diagnosis of breast cancer by analyzing the isotopic composition of metals in the body.

In practice, this means that a study by scientists from Oxford can lay the foundation for a simple and non-invasive diagnostic technique for early cancer based on a routine blood test.

According to the head of the study, Dr. Fiona Larner, scientists have known the high concentration of zinc in breast tissue for more than ten years, but the reasons and molecular mechanisms of metal concentration have remained a mystery. “Our work shows that the methods used in Earth science can not only help in understanding how zinc is used by tumor cells, but also how breast cancer causes changes in the zinc in an individual’s blood, which can become easily detectable biomarkers. breast cancer, ”says Dr. Larner.  

The study is ongoing. Now scientists are trying to figure out what changes in metals cause other forms of cancer.

Good health!

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