AH3 – Breast cancer diagnostics

Normally, the breast exams (auto exams or performed by the doctor) are routine tests performed to detect any anomalies in the breast area. Also, mammogram and/or breast ultrasound analysis are established as screening tests for women beyond 40s, or before if certain risks are identified. When an anomaly is detected the patient can also undergo further tests that can include a breast magnetic resonance imaging to further characterise the interior of the breast, a computerized tomography (CT) scan, a positron emission tomography (PET) scan, some blood tests, or a biopsy to serve as a definitive way to make a diagnosis of breast cancer.

Normally, the doctor choses the appropriate test based on patient circumstances and related to the symptoms that are behind. All these tests provide information about the cancer stage and this helps to determine the prognosis and best treatment options. Most of the time, until a biopsy is made, the cancer staging might not be accurate enough. Staging ranges from 0 (non-invasive) to IV (spread to other areas). During the cancer staging, the presence of certain receptors detected by histopathological studies serve as biomarkers for evaluating the type of cancer cells producing the tumour. The receptor status can be classified as oestrogen receptor-α (ER), progesterone (PR) or human epidermal growth factor 2 (HER2) positive. When the tumours do not express any of these biomarkers they are called triple negative tumours, which are associated to bad prognosis and low survival rate.

Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy is a procedure that determines if the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes. HypoSens system is based on the binding of the nanocapsules to the cancer cells that express HER2 receptor and are located in the sentinel lymph node; these cells have been shown to represent a generally aggressive and rapid growth tumour.