New MRI test could improve breast cancer diagnosis by detecting salt levels in tumours

Liz Hurley says two friends found breast cancer after her campaign

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Developed by the University of York at Addenbrookes Hospital in Cambridge, the technology works by using sodium resonance imaging to detect salt levels in tumours.

Using this technique they discovered sodium was accumulating inside cancer cells and the more active tumours were the more sodium they contained.

After successful results in mice, the University is now moving onto human trials.

Senior Lecturer at the University of York Dr William Brackenbury said: “We are excited by these findings, which suggest that sodium could be a novel biomarker for malignant tumours”.

“They suggest that sodium MRI may give a better indication of response to therapy than conventional MRI,” continued Dr Brackenbury, who also added the procedure has the advantage of being non-invasive.

Breast Cancer Now’s Dr Simon Vincent responded to the research in a statement: “It’s vital breast cancer is diagnosed quickly and accurately, giving medical teams more in-depth information”.

Cancer Research UK’s Dr Charles Adams meanwhile added: “This study demonstrates using sodium MRI could be a very powerful new way to improve detection of breast cancers.”

However, while the research is promising, there is one caveat in that the research is still at an early stage and more is needed before it can be rolled out nation wide.

For the time being people must rely on current diagnostic tools, this includes knowing the symptoms of breast cancer.

Common symptoms that can appear, according to the NHS, are:
• A new lump or area of thickened tissue in either breast that was not there before
• A change in size or shape of one or both breasts
• A discharge of fluid from either of the nipples
• A lump or swelling in either of your armpits
• A change in the look or feel of your skin
• A rash akin to eczema on or around the nipple
• A change in the appearance of the nipple.

Although disconcerting breast pain is not typically a symptom of breast cancer.

While breast pain isn’t typically a symptom, neither is breast cancer thought of in association with men.

The condition more often than not develops in men over the age of 60, but it can affect people in younger age groups.

Just as the NHS recommends women see their GP if they have a lump on their breast so they suggest men do the same.

Male breast cancers make up one percent of diagnosed cancers, equal to around 400 cases.

In men it says lumps normally “only happen in one breast”, however it adds “most lumps and swellings are not a sign of cancer. They’re usually caused by something fairly harmless”.

Nevertheless, if men do find something troubling on their breasts, they should see a GP to get it checked.

In recent years more attention has been turned to male breasts with the University of Belfast launching the largest study into the disease.

The aim of the study is to uncover genes that lead to breast cancer.

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