Cancer is a disease in which cells in the body grow out of control; breast cancer is the most common cancer in women in the United States. Due to early screening and advancements in therapeutic interventions, deaths from breast cancer have declined over time, although breast cancer remains the second leading cause of cancer death among women. Most deaths are due to metastasis, as cancer cells from the primary tumor in the breast form secondary tumors in remote sites in distant organs. Over many years, the basic biological mechanisms of breast cancer initiation and progression, as well as the subsequent metastatic cascade, have been studied using cell cultures and animal models. These models, although extremely useful for delineating cellular mechanisms, are poor predictors of physiological responses, primarily due to lack of proper microenvironments. In the last decade, microfluidics has emerged as a technology that could lead to a paradigm shift in breast cancer research. With the introduction of the organ-on-a-chip concept, microfluidic-based systems have been developed to reconstitute the dominant functions of several organs. These systems enable the construction of 3D cellular co-cultures mimicking in vivo tissue-level microenvironments, including that of breast cancer. Several reviews have been presented focusing on breast cancer formation, growth and metastasis, including invasion, intravasation, and extravasation. In this review, realizing that breast cancer can recur decades following post-treatment disease-free survival, we expand the discussion to account for microfluidic applications in the important areas of breast cancer detection, dormancy, and therapeutic development. It appears that, in the future, the role of microfluidics will only increase in the effort to eradicate breast cancer.
- Breast cancer
- Drug development
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Control and Systems Engineering
- Mechanical Engineering
- Electrical and Electronic Engineering