Concentrations of Fe, Cu and Zn in breast tissue: a synchrotron XRF study
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An x-ray fluorescence system with a synchrotron radiation source was used to quantify the levels of iron, copper and zinc in breast tissue specimens. Healthy tissue and breast carcinomas were investigated as an aid to understanding the mechanisms of breast cancer and as a possible complementary diagnostic tool. Eighty samples were measured in total. Twenty samples were matched pairs, i.e. 20 tumour samples with 20 corresponding healthy tissue specimens taken at a distance from the tumour. The remaining 40 samples consisted of 20 excised tumours and 20 healthy specimens from breast reduction surgeries. The levels of the elements of interest were quantified via calibration models constructed using the XRF response from standard solutions. The statistical analysis of the results indicates elevation of the levels of all three trace elements in the tumours. The effect is more prominent for copper and zinc while the contrast between healthy and diseased tissue is enhanced when comparing the independent specimens rather than the paired samples. Specifically, the ratio of mean tumour to mean healthy concentration for iron was 1.6 for the paired samples and 2.7 for the non-paired samples. The ratios describing copper content were 3.1 for paired and 3.6 for non-paired samples while for zinc they were 2.4 and 4.4 respectively.
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