One of the many challenges in treating breast cancer is making sure that any treatment attacks only cancer cells and avoids normal, healthy tissue. In chemotherapy, this has led to the development of targeted therapies like Herceptin. In radiation therapy, new technology allows doctors to limit the exposure of healthy tissue to radiation therapy.
Doctors have been studying how heat and other high energy sources could be used to destroy cancers. These experimental treatments include:
- thermal ablation
- radiofrequency ablation
- laser ablation
- focused microwave thermotherapy
But like radiation, it's challenging to deliver the energy that destroys the cells only to cancer cells and avoid nearby healthy tissue.
Scientists are working hard to find good ways to solve this problem and develop new and better treatments for breast cancer. In a new study, the nano-probes used by the researchers are like smart, heat-generating missiles. They use immune system proteins to find and precisely target only breast cancer cells. The probes make their own cancer-destroying heat and are small enough to deliver that heat only to those breast cancer cells to which they attach.
This technology was demonstrated successfully in mice, not humans. Still, it's research like this that gives all of us hope for even better ways to treat breast cancer.