Booby Jacuzzi, a Novel Way to Treat Breast Cancer

02 June 2002


Normal (left) versus cancerous (right) mammography image.


According to NHS statisctics, 30,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer and 13,000 will die from it. In fact a woman has a 1 in 9 chance of developing the disease during her lifetime. But now researchers are Duke University Medical Centre have come up with a new treatment to combat breast cancer which has been given the nickname The Booby Jacuzzi!

Here's how it works: the women are first treated with doxorubicin, a traditional anti-cancer drug, and then made to lie down on a table with a hole in it for the breasts to go through.

The breasts are immersed for one hour in a pool of warm salt-water heated by radio waves.

Out of 21 women who were diagnosed with inoperable and inflammatory tumours, after 12 weeks in 7 women the there were no longer any signs of tumours. In the remainder the tumours had shrunk to operable sizes.

According to the researchers, the success of the treatment was probably due to 2 things. Firstly, fat bubbles called liposomes, which coat the molecules of doxorubicin, the chemotherapy drug, help to target the drug to the affected area. Secondly, the application of heat to the tissue increases blood flow and hence drug delivery.

In fact, the researchers found that their approach resulted in a 20 fold increase in the amount of drug delivered to the affected tissue, whilst protecting other areas of the body.


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