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Researchers try using stem cells to improve breast reconstruction

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

While breast cancer survivors already have a number of cosmetic surgery options to choose from after undergoing a mastectomy, doctors are saying that a new, supplementary treatment may be on the horizon for breast construction - namely, stem cell therapy.

Dr. Jennifer Ashton recently appeared on CBS's Early Show to talk about the possibilities that stem cells hold in rebuilding breast tissue after a mastectomy.

The medical expert said that researchers across the nation are looking into the viability of stem cells as a way to regrow tissue after a breast has been partially or fully removed.

Ashton said that so far, human growth factor has been used to positive effect in clinical trials, but that it is still unclear how safe such a treatment will be compared to breast reconstruction methods whose safety has been proven.

She noted that there is a delicate boundary between regrowing fat cells in the breast area and reactivating cancer cells there, which is one factor that limits the safety of such a therapy.

By contrast, the National Institutes of Health notes that most women who undergo an implant- or skin flap-based breast reconstruction report being happy that they did so.

Stem cell breakthrough in breast reconstruction (video). CBS News. February 21, 2001. http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=7357278n Accessed May 6, 2011.

Breast Reconstruction. MedLine Plus, National Institutes of Health. April 19, 2011. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/breastreconstruction.html Accessed May 6, 2011.

Extract: While breast cancer survivors already have a number of cosmetic surgery options to choose from after undergoing a mastectomy, doctors are saying that a new, supplementary treatment may be on the horizon for breast construction - namely, stem cell therapy.

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