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Publication Detail
Invasive breast tumors are characterized by the presence of crystalline nanoparticles
The presence of calcification in tumours has been known for decades1. Indeed, calcified breast tissue is a fundamental criterion for early breast cancer diagnosis, indicative of malignancies2, and their appearance is used to distinguish between benign and malignant in breast biopsies3,4. However, an in-depth characterization of the nature and origin of tumour tissue calcification remains elusive5–8. Here, we report the presence of nano and micron-sized spherical particles made of highly crystalline whitlockite that are exclusively found in the arterial wall of malignant invasive tumours. By applying nanoanalytical methods to healthy, benign and malignant tumour breast tissue biopsies from patients, we show that poorly crystalline apatite can be found in all breast tissue samples, whereas spherical crystalline whitlockite particles are present only in invasive cancers, mainly in areas close to the lumen of the arterial wall. Moreover, we demonstrate that the concentration of these spherical crystalline particles increases with the grade of disease, and that their size can be related to tumour type. Therefore, our results not only provide new insight into calcification of tumour tissue, but also enable a precise, yet simple route of breast cancer diagnosis and staging.Competing Interest StatementThe authors have declared no competing interest.
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