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Stem cells can be used for breast reconstructive surgery

For breast cancer survivors who have undergone partial breast removal, new research is looking at the use of stem cells and body fat to grow back part of one's own breast, according to a February 21 report on CBS News.

"A patient's own fat and stem cells are combined in the lab. Growth factors are added. It's then injected into a biodegradable chamber in the breast. A blood supply is attached to feed these cells, and in about six-to-twelve months, that tissue then creates the form and shape of a breast," said Dr. Jennifer Ashton, the CBS News Medical Correspondent.

According to Ashton, stem calls can be found in embryos, umbilical cord blood and bone marrow. They have the potential to develop into almost any kind of cell and in this case, doctors are "essentially training them to turn into breast cells," according to the news source.

This procedure is currently not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and there are no ongoing clinical trials. Some of the risks involve re-stimulating cancer growth.

A masectomy is sometimes recommended if the tumor is bigger than 5 centimeters, according to BreastCancer.org. Many women undergo masectomy hoping to remove their tumors completely.
 
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