New research is showing promise for patients with metastatic breast cancer, according to scientists at the University of Michigan. Early detection of the primary malignant breast tumor offers encouraging prospects for stopping the disease, but once it starts to spread, survival rates diminish. However, early metastasis is hard to detect. Using biodegradable material commonly found in sutures and wound dressings, scientists created a scaffold that can be implanted under the skin and easily observed with non-invasive imaging. The scaffold attracts the body's immune cells, which in turn attract cancer cells away from their usual targets — the lungs, liver and brain. The colonization of the scaffolding by cancer cells can be immediately detected, enabling the earliest possible start of treatment. Studies have shown that the method increases survivability in mice with breast cancer. Next, scientists are developing clinical trials for humans.
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