Vaccum-powered device which sucks out cancerous tissue could be a new way to remove breast cancer

A vacuum-powered device could be a new way to remove breast cancer. 

The machine sucks out cancerous tissue via a special needle inserted into the breast, and doctors say it is suitable for small and medium breast tumours up to one inch in size.

The 60-minute, minimally invasive treatment leaves less scarring than conventional surgery, where the tumour is cut out, and does not require a general anaesthetic.

Now a new trial using this approach — known as vacuum-assisted excision — is being carried out at Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust.

The study is part of a growing body of research into the use of ‘vacuum’ technology in the treatment of breast cancer. 

A vacuum-powered device could be a new way to remove breast cancer. The machine sucks out cancerous tissue via a special needle inserted into the breast, and doctors say it is suitable for small and medium breast tumours up to one inch in size

There are around 55,000 new cases a year in the UK and vacuum-assisted biopsies (VAB) are one of a number of methods used to remove a sample of tissue for detailed examination in the laboratory.

This technique is carried out under local anaesthetic as an outpatient procedure, and has been used in the NHS breast screening programme for about ten years to diagnose whether suspicious small lumps are cancerous.

The technology is also now being used in research to help pinpoint the location of breast cancer after the patient has had chemotherapy.


Doing chores might boost your brain health as you age, reports BMC Geriatrics. 

In a study of adults over 71, scans showed that those who did light physical activity, including dusting and tidying, were linked with increased brain volume and more grey matter. 

Normally, when a breast cancer patient has chemotherapy before surgery, they will have scans afterwards to see if the tumour has shrunk.

By using VAB alongside the scans, doctors think they can determine with greater accuracy the size of the tumour, and potentially spare patients surgery if the cancer has been eradicated.

Doctors say this approach could be beneficial for the 30 per cent of women diagnosed with breast cancer each year who have chemotherapy to try to shrink the tumour so it is easier to remove with an operation.

Currently, all these patients still undergo surgery because mammogram, ultrasound or MRI scans used to identify their response to chemotherapy are not very accurate; they can’t differentiate between remaining cancer cells and dead scar tissue, and doctors don’t want to miss any residual cancer.

With ‘vacuum’ technology, a large-gauge needle, around 4mm in diameter, is inserted under local anaesthetic into the tumour.

Once it’s in place, the vacuum-generating device is plugged into the other end of the needle to suck out the malignant tissue. 

The tumour is removed with a combination of cutting with the needle and then sucking.

After the lump is removed, a small metal clip is placed where the lump was as a permanent marker that can be seen in any future breast ultrasound scans or mammograms to check for any recurrence.

If the new NHS trial on around 20 women is successful, the device could spare women with breast cancer from invasive surgery.

However, some doctors are concerned that this approach could leave cancer cells behind, which could then spread to other parts of the body.

‘Such a piecemeal removal of cancer has traditionally been an anathema of surgical oncologists, as it can potentially leave cancer cells behind and spread,’ says Jayant Vaidya, a professor of surgery and oncology at University College London. 

‘However, research to improve cancer treatment is always welcome and the procedure could be of great value in those patients who cannot have standard surgery.’

Processed meat has been linked to a higher risk of heart-related disease. 

In a review of more than 134,000 people’s diets, those who ate 150g or more of processed meat each week had a 46 per cent higher risk of heart-related disease, according to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 

There was no link with unprocessed meat. 

Gene link to risk of ectopic pregnancy 

Ectopic pregnancies, where a fertilised egg incorrectly implants outside the uterus, usually in the fallopian tubes, may have a genetic cause.

A number of factors are already known to increase the chance of an ectopic pregnancy, including muscle contractions affecting the movement of the egg.

However, animal studies by researchers from the Wellcome Sanger Institute in Cambridge showed that a specific gene, called Adgrd1, was also responsible for embryos implanting in the wrong place.

The scientists say the finding provides strong evidence that the movement of embryos is genetically controlled.

Stomach aches may be warning of anorexia  

Experiencing stomach pain between the ages of seven and nine may be a risk factor for developing eating disorders in adolescence, say scientists at Oxford University.

They found that children who had complained of abdominal pain three or more times a year were more likely to experience unhealthy eating patterns as they grew up, although five or more episodes weren’t linked to subsequent problems.

It’s thought the severity of the pain could be more significant than how often the child experienced it, reports the International Journal of Eating Disorders.

One theory is that children avoid foods they associate with stomach pain and this sets a pattern of ‘fasting’ that could lead to anorexia.

‘Jelly’ made of patient’s blood for heart disease 

A man-made blood clot could help speed up the healing of chronic wounds.

The jelly-like material is made using the patient’s own blood mixed with kaolin powder (from clay) and the mineral calcium gluconate — both of which help seal a wound.

The elements are combined inside a mould and it takes just 12 minutes to prepare the ‘clot’, which is then placed on the area. 

Wounds usually heal through scabbing, but in conditions such as diabetes, poor blood supply to the injury can slow clotting and scabbing.

The new treatment, called ActiGraft, was developed by Israel-based RedDress Medical and is currently involved in four clinical trials. It is already approved for use in the U.S.

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