SCIENTISTS in Bradford are looking into speeding up breast cancer diagnosis using the state-of-the-art equipment bought through the £1 million Telegraph & Argus Bradford Crocus Cancer Appeal.

The team at the University of Bradford is using the technically advanced mass spectrometer to carry out a study into women's breast fluid.

The fluid, known as nipple aspirate fluid, has been highlighted by scientists as a useful tool in determining breast health and detecting diseases including breast cancer.

The fluid method can be used alongside more traditional detection techniques including mammograms and biopsies.

The study has already collected about 100 fluid samples so far but is looking to increase this number significantly next year with more women coming forward to help the unit's study.

Each fluid sample is between ten and 100 microlitres, the size of an ant, with the research being carried out at the University of Bradford's Institute of Cancer Therapeutics (ICT).

Dr Chris Sutton and his team are using the spectrometer, which was funded through the Bradford Crocus Cancer appeal, to help analyse the samples.

The equipment will allow researchers to analyse proteins in cancer cells at a much quicker rate, improving the number of opportunities for the development of new cancer medicines.

Dr Sutton said: "People have been working on nipple aspirate fluid for the last 50 years but using the spectrometer gives us an extra level of information that we can look at that we haven't been able to in the past.

"This now lets us take at two samples. It gives us an opportunity to look at breast cancer.

"The spectrometer means we are able to see proteins in the fluid in these samples that have not been seen before, between healthy and cancerous breasts.

"There has been a very positive response to the study so far from women taking part.

"The study has been running for about two years now.

"It won't be an alternative to mammograms, certainly not for a long time.

"If the study is successful, it could lead to the development of diagnostic kits within the next five to ten years.

"We are already starting to look at the data we have received from the fluid samples."

Although different groups of scientists around the world also looking at nipple aspirate fluid, the University of Bradford is using new techniques to detect changes in breast health.

More women volunteers are being sought to provide their breast fluid to the study, obtained through massage or a breast pump in their own homes.

These samples can then be donated to the study through the University of Bradford Human Research Tissue Bank, Ethical Tissue.

Samples have also been collected through a tie-in with clinicians at Bradford Royal Infirmary, who have given breast fluid donations from their patients.

Dr Sutton added: "We have fantastic support from breast cancer patients and clinicians at Bradford Royal Infirmary (BRI) providing samples, but we also need many samples from healthy volunteers.

"Our ultimate goal is to have a group of women who can provide samples over time that can tell us about modifications in normal breast physiology, as well as relating to disease.

"Collecting the fluid from both nipples, along with information on the patient's history, enables us to build a comprehensive bank of samples."

Mohamed Salhab, lead oncoplastic surgeon at BRI, said the unit's research could provide useful signs of breast cancer development in the future.

He said: "Mammography is a sensitive method for early detection of breast cancer but it has limitations, especially in younger patients.

"In addition, mammography cannot determine if a growth is harmless or dangerous without further imaging and examination. Looking for markers of the disease in nipple aspirate fluid may provide an important additional test."

Any women aged between 18 and 70 interested in volunteering for the project is urged to go to All inquiries are treated in strict confidence.