You hear about and see the many people who have been affected by cancer. It isn’t until it hits home that you really take a deeper look at it. Having had three individuals in my family fight with cancer I’ve become more aware of cancer and what it is. My grandma was the first diagnosed in 2000 with cancer and we never would have found out if she wouldn’t have fallen and hurt her leg which would require medical attention that revealed cancer cells. Next my mom was first diagnosed with breast cancer 3 years ago, a week later my aunt was diagnosed with breast cancer. It was hard to understand how they had got cancer at the time. I found myself feeling lost without answers. Sure the doctors answered questions we may have had, but I still wanted to know more about it and how to join the fight against cancer. A research team at Brown University has created an implant to deter breast cancer cell growth. First here is a little bit about cancer. Cancer can come in many forms.
Some Common Cancers
Lung Cancer: Cancer that forms in tissues of the lung, usually in the cells lining air passages. The two main types are small cell lung cancer and non-small cell lung cancer. These types are diagnosed based on how the cells look under a microscope.
Prostate Cancer: Cancer that forms in tissues of the prostate (a gland in the male reproductive system found below the bladder and in front of the rectum). Prostate cancer usually occurs in older men.
Leukemia: Cancer that starts in blood-forming tissue such as the bone marrow and causes large numbers of blood cells to be produced and enter the bloodstream.
Colon Cancer: Cancer that forms in the tissues of the colon (the longest part of the large intestine). Most colon cancers are adenocarcinomas (cancers that begin in cells that make and release mucus and other fluids).
Breast Cancer: Cancer that forms in tissues of the breast, usually the ducts (tubes that carry milk to the nipple) and lobules (glands that make milk). It occurs in both men and women, although male breast cancer is rare.
Out of all these types of cancer the one that my family had to face was breast cancer. Breast cancer can affect both men and women. Inside a women’s breast there are 15 to 20 section called lobes. Each lobe is made up of smaller sections called lobules. Lobules have groups of tiny glands that can make milk. After a baby is born, a woman’s breast milk flows from the lobules through thin tubes called ducts to the nipple. Fat and fibrous tissue fill the spaces between the lobules and ducts.
The breasts also contain lymph vessels. These vessels are connected to small, round masses of tissue called lymph nodes. Groups of lymph nodes are near the breast in the underarm (axilla), above the collarbone, and in the chest behind the breastbone. Cancer begins in the cells. Normal cells grow and divide to form new cells as the body needs them. When this process goes wrong new cells form and the body doesn’t need, and old or damaged cells don’t die as they should. The buildup of extra cells often forms a mass of tissue called a lump growth or tumor. This growth can be classified as benign which are rarely a threat and malignant which may be a threat to life.
Researchers at Brown University have reported some promising advance in the fight against breast cancer. They have created an implant with a bed of nails surface at the nanoscale that deters cells from dwelling and thriving. This implant is made of federally approved polymer, the first implant of its kind.
Cancer Fighting Implant
This implant has modifications at the nanoscale that cause a reduction in the blood vessel architecture on which breast cancer tumors depend while also attracting healthy breast cells.
According to Thomas Webster (research.brown.edu) associate professor of engineering
“They’ve created an (implant) surface with features that can at least decrease (cancerous) cell functions without having to use chemotherapeutics, radiation, or other processes to kill cancer cells.”
It’s unclear why the 23-nanometer surface appears to work best at deterring breast cancer cells. They think it has something to do with the stiffness of the malignant breast cells. When they come into contact with the bumpy surface, they are unable to fully wrap themselves around the rounded contours depriving them of the nutrients they need to grow.
For some women I can see the benefits of this implant. In my aunt’s case she had to have both breasts removed and this type of implant would be a helpful solution. It’s funny who we don’t really look into and appreciate medical advances until it hit close to home. Looking at the advances that are constantly happening in science it is promising to see the help that is out there for people who are suffering.
Breast Cancer Patients Prefer Silicone Over Saline Implants After Mastectomy, ScienceDaily (Nov. 8, 2010)
Chemotherapy And Tamoxifen Reduce Risk Of Second Breast Cancer, Study Finds, ScienceDaily (Dec. 26, 2007)
New Target For Treating Breast Cancer Metastasis, ScienceDaily (Aug. 26, 2009)
Breast Cancer Treatment Offers Better Outcome To Women With Implants, ScienceDaily (Dec. 1, 2008)