MUSE: Burning Away Breast Cancer Tumors


SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (Ivanhoe Newswire) – Just in time for breast cancer awareness month, scientists are exploring a technology that can kill some breast tumors without patients having to go under the knife.

It’s called the MUSE Magnetic Resonance Guided Focused Ultrasound System and it could redefine the way we fight breast cancer. Like something out of a sci-fi movie, it uses the power of MRI to hunt down a breast tumor and burn it away with high-intensity focused ultrasound. It effectively cooks the cancer without affecting the tissue and organs around it.

Cindy Matsen, MD, at the Huntsman Cancer Institute at the University of Utah, says, “One of the things that is a challenge in breast cancer is that the tumors often, kind of, have little arms or little tendrils that come out from them.”

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This technology centers around a special table developed to help patients feel comfortable being in the MRI machine for a couple of hours – that’s how long it takes the device to deliver ultrasound waves straight into the tumor, concentrating the energy into a point as tiny as a grain of rice.

“MRI is, actually, our most sensitive test for looking at breast tissue, so it gives us the advantage of being able to target tumors more accurately and precisely,” Dr. Matsen explains.

It’s an outpatient procedure and the patient is awake the entire time.

The MUSE system is currently in clinical trials but researchers hope it will only be a few years until this technology is available to replace surgery for some breast cancer patients.

Contributors to this news report include: Jessica Sanchez, Producer; Kirk Manson, Videographer; Roque Correa, Editor. 

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BACKGROUND: Breast cancer is a disease that happens when cells in the breast grow and divide at a rapid rate. In the United States, close to 300,000 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer, and about 44,000 women will die from it. Breast cancer doesn’t just occur women, though – about one in 100 breast cancer cases will be diagnosed in a man. Although breast cancer is diagnosed in women over the age of 50, it can be diagnosed at any age. There are seven types of breast cancer: infiltrating (or invasive) ductal carcinoma, ductal carcinoma in situ, infiltrating lobular carcinoma, lobular carcinoma in situ, triple negative breast cancer, inflammatory breast cancer, and Paget’s disease of the breast.


DIAGNOSING: Signs and symptoms of breast cancer can differ depending on the person, but typical symptoms include, but aren’t limited to: change in size or shape of breast, a mass or lump in the breast when doing your breast exam, change in the look of your nipples (like dimpled, puckered, scaly, or inflamed), and/or a blood stain or clear fluid discharge coming from your nipple. Doctors can diagnose breast cancer with a mammogram, ultrasonography, a PET scan, or an MRI.


NEW TECHNOLOGY: The traditional way to treat breast cancer would be chemotherapy or radiation to shrink the tumor(s) and then surgery to remove them, but now there’s a new, non-invasive way to remove the cancerous cells. The MUSE Magnetic Resonance Guided Focus Ultrasound System uses heat to kill off the tumors. “MUSE system is based around a special table she developed to help a woman feel comfortable for long periods of time in the MRI machine. The device delivers ultrasound waves into the tumor, focusing the energy into a point the size of a grain of rice. The energy heats up the cancerous tissue in 30 second intervals, moving to precisely target the entire three-dimensional space of the tumor. The patient is awake during the outpatient procedure, which could take up to a few hours.”



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Doctor Q and A

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