Japanese researchers said they have reached a big breakthrough in regenerative medicine for breast cancer patients who have undergone breast-conserving surgery. Led by Bin Nakayama, an associate professor at Tottori University, the team has come up with a way for those patients to recover what was lost after the surgery.
Breast-conserving surgery is a common procedure for cancer patients to remove the cancerous tissue without removing the breast itself. With this new procedure, the research team was able to replace the mass that was lost in the surgery by transplanting fat mixed with their own stem cells. They conducted clinical tests on five women, aged between 30 and 60, from September 2012 and January 2013. They all underwent breast-conserving surgery at least a year before and there were no signs of the cancer metastasizing. The clinical tests took fat out of the patients’ abdomen or hips and mixed it with their fat stem cells. They were then transplanted into where the surgery took out the tumor and surrounding tissues in their breasts.
Their studies show that if only fat was transplanted, only 30% remains in the breast because most of it is absorbed into the body since it does not have blood vessels. But the stem cells have the ability to bring in blood vessels into fat from surrounding tissues. Their tests show that 70-90% of transplanted fat remain after the blood vessels were formed.
This is a big breakthrough, especially for Japan where 60,000 people develop breast cancer annually, as per records from the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry. Statistics from the Japanese Breast Cancer Society show that 60% of them undergo breast-conserving surgery.