Breast fluid a better option for detecting cancer

. "The medical community recognizes that one way to markedly decrease mortality from breast cancer would be a more accurate, noninvasive method for early diagnosis. Our approach suggests there could be other options available."

The NAF samples were collected using an enhanced process that is less painful than other extraction methods yet obtains just as much fluid. It was developed by co-author Chandice Covington, Professor and Chair, Primary Care Nursing at UCLA School of Nursing.

While NAF has been studied for more than 25 years, most extraction methods have been painful. Through Covington's process, women use warmth, massage and a simple breast pump that eases the fluid from the breast without discomfort.

"Women need early mechanisms for detecting potential or existing disease," Covington said. "Current detection methods rely on feeling a lump in a self-exam or visualizing a lump in a mammogram. By the time a lump has formed, the cancer has progressed. My technique, combined with Battelle's protein analysis capabilities, makes our approach one of the leading methods for identifying biomarkers for breast cancer in the early stages, before a lump is detectable."

Zangar and colleague Susan Varnum analyzed the NAF samples using high-throughput mass spectrometers located in the William R. Wiley Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory, a DOE national user facility located at PNNL. Of the 65 proteins identified, 15 of them, or 23 percent, have been previously implicated as potential biomarkers for breast cancer. This implies that NAF provides a useful sample for analysis of known breast cancer biomarkers, while offering the possibility of providing novel biomarkers not yet identified in blood samples.

The results are promising, but Zangar also noted there are more questions that need to be addressed.

"Will a biomarker show up sooner in NAF than in blood? We don't know yet, but we do know that NAF is a concent

Contact: Staci Maloof
DOE/Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

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