What Is Breast Cancer?

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month which gives us a chance to help raise awareness about the importance of screening and the early detection of breast cancer. If you or loved one has been diagnosed with breast cancer, it is important to understand what breast cancer is and how it develops.

To gain a better understanding of breast cancer it is important to understand how any cancer can develop. When genes responsible for regulating the growth of cells and keeping them healthy, mutate or experience abnormal changes, cancer can develop. Genes are found in each cell’s nucleus and when operating normally the cells in our bodies follow an orderly process where the new healthy cells replace the old ones as they die out.  Over time, abnormal changes or mutations can turn on certain genes and turn off others in a cell. When cells experience these mutations, the orderly process of normal cell growth is disrupted and the cells can continue to keep dividing without following the control of order, they produce more of the same cells and ultimately form a tumor.

There are two forms of tumors; benign and malignant tumors. Benign tumors are not dangerous to health or considered cancerous because their cells are close to normal in appearance, slow growing, are not invasive to nearby tissues, and they don’t spread to other parts of the body. Malignant tumors on the other hand are cancerous and left unchecked the cancerous cells can spread beyond the original tumor to other parts of the body.

Breast cancer is a malignant tumor that has developed from cells in the breast. The normal breast is comprised of lobes and lobules (milk-producing glands), milk ducts (tiny tubes that carry the milk from the lobules to the nipple), and the stroma (fatty tissue and connective tissues surrounding the ducts and lobules, blood vessels, and lymphatic vessels). Breast cancer usually begins in the lobules (lobular cancers) or the ducts (ductal cancers), although it can begin in the stromal tissues of the breast.

Breast cancers can spread through the lymph system, this occurs when cancerous cells invade healthy breast tissue and make their way into the underarm lymph nodes (small organs that filter out foreign substances in the body). Once a cancer cell has made it into the lymph nodes, the cancerous cells have a pathway to spread beyond the original tumor and onto other parts of the body. Breast cancer stages (expressed as a number on a scale of 0 through IV) refer to how far the cancerous cells have spread beyond the original tumor.

Genetic abnormalities or a mistake in the genetic material is the cause of breast cancer. Inherited genetic abnormalities are only responsible for 5-10% of cancers, while genetic abnormalities resulting from the aging process and everyday life are responsible for 85-90% of breast cancers.

These are some examples of steps everyone can take for staying as healthy as possible which may have some impact on your risk of getting breast cancer.

  • Eat a balanced diet
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Limit alcohol consumption
  • Avoid tobacco products
  • Exercise regularly

While taking these steps to live a healthier lifestyle they may have some impact on your risk of getting breast cancer but they cannot eliminate the risk. Learn more about how you can manage breast cancer risk factors and the importance of monthly breast self-exams (BSE) as well as annual screening tests (mammograms). Johns Hopkins Medical center states “Forty percent of diagnosed breast cancers are detected by women who feel a lump, so establishing a regular breast self-exam is very important.” Mammograms are important in helping detect cancer before you can feel a lump, breast self-exams help you become familiar with how your breasts look and feel so you can alert your healthcare professional if there are any changes.

Why Reliable Specimen Bags Are Key For Handling Laboratory Samples

Reliable laboratory specimen bags are key for handling lab samples efficiently. When working with sensitive samples in your lab, the last thing you want to experience is sample loss due to an unstable, unreliable sample bag. That’s why our line of Whirl-Pak sample bags are ideal in sample collection for both liquid and solid forms.

The Whirl-Pak line was started over 50 years ago, made in the United States and is often referred to as the “universal sample system.” These Whirl-Pak bags feature unique puncture-proof tabs to make it easier to organize and handle all different types of samples.

Included in our line of Whirl-Pak sample bags are a multitude of lab sample bag styles and sizes. A few examples include: stand-up bags, water sampling bags, scoop bags, write-on bags, biohazard bags, sterile bags, filter bags for homogenizer blender, Coli-test bags, black bags, pre-moistened speci-sponge bags and more! The stand-up bags make sample handling extremely easy, as it allows the user to do other tasks in the lab since the bag will stand by itself.

Using specimen bags that break or leak can cause further problems and require more time. Your testing results can possibly be altered and you could lose important sample matter. It’s essential to keep your samples safe in a durable specimen bag. If you have any questions or comments about our Whirl-Pak sample bags, let us know below!

Whiteboard Wednesday: 3 Ways To Keep Your Laser Glasses Safe

Today’s Whiteboard Wednesday topic highlights 3 ways to keep laser safety glasses safe. By taking care of your laser glasses, it will allow you to prolong the life of your glasses. Keeping your laser safety glasses safe and properly stored is important for any hospital, research lab or medical facility. If you have any questions or comments, please let us know below.


Digital Dry Baths In Your Laboratory

Before we had digital dry baths, laboratories relied on analog dry baths to heat samples. Digital dry baths are often considered the next generation of dry baths and are essential in many applications that take place in the laboratory. Many have digital screens with easy-to-see temperature display for accurate readings. We’re breaking this post down with a few of our most common digital dry baths.

The MyBlock mini dry bath is a compact digital dry bath that can fit in the palm of your hand! This portable unit has exchangeable blocks, for tube sizes of 0.2 to 50ml. This mini dry bath has back-light display to control temperatures up to 80°C. Keeping a small profile, this unit includes a clear plastic cover allows for enhanced temperature regularity and ramping time.

Another style is the digital dry bath – four blocks, which also encompasses digital accuracy and convenience. This unit has the capacity for single, double and four blocks. This particular dry bath offers temperature and time control, which eliminates the need for an external thermometer or timer. The four block model can accommodate up to 96 x 1.5ml tubes in less than a square foot of bench space.

Digital dry baths incorporate a microchip into the unit which allows the temperature of the bath to be controlled through digital interface. The user can change the temperature by simply pressing the up and down arrows on the display panel. These digital dry baths are easy to use, easy to store and essential for laboratory settings. If you have any comments or questions regarding digital dry baths, please leave us a comment below!

Using Agarose In Gel Electrophoresis

Agarose is a substance used in many laboratory applications but most commonly associated with gel electrophoresis.

First, let’s start with stating that agarose powder forms a gel when mixed with water. This chemical is actually found naturally in agar, which is a gelatinous substance derived from red algae. When agarose is joined with other additives, the gel can be rolled into tiny beads.

Gel electrophoresis is technique of separating and analyzing macromolecules (DNA, RNA, proteins) and their fragments. Basically, gel electrophoresis is used for whenever DNA strands need to be sorted according to length. Before a gel electrophoresis procedure, a DNA sample would be treated with special enzymes. The agarose gel is used by dissolving the powder, which resists changes to pH that might result from electrochemical effects. The agarose filters the DNA strands. Adding an electrical current is how the DNA is pushed through the agarose, allowing the DNA strands to move.

Our Benchmark Agarose LE 500g – Organic Solvent Free is multi-purpose and has enhanced resolution and clarity. A few features of this agarose:

  • Reduced background
  • Low EEO / increased electrophoretic mobility
  • RNase, DNase, Protease-free
  • High hysteresis, improved thermal stability

Our IBI Molecular Biology Grade Agarose Ultra Sieve was designed to improve resolution of small DNA fragments and PCR products. A few features this agarose has:

  • High resolution of short PCR products and DNA fragments
  • Improved clarity enhancing visibility
  • High gel strength allows use in blotting procedures
  • Excellent gel strength, minimizing cracking or breaking during handling

Agarose plays a key role in the process of gel electrophoresis. If you have any questions or comments regarding this topic, please let us know in the comment box below!

Finding Accuracy With Disposable Fast Find Grid In CT Guided Biopsies

CT guided biopsies are commonly performed in medical facilities nationwide. These biopsies help physicians closely examine an area of the body through CT images to determine precise location. In order to identify other conditions, it’s important for biopsies to be accurate.

The Disposable CT Biopsy Fast Find Grid is used for all CT (Computed Technology) guided biopsies and drainage procedures, regardless of the body part. This includes thyroid, lung, liver, abdominal, pelvic and extremity biopsies and drainages.

A particularly important feature is how the grid forms to the patient’s body for precise and accurate imaging technique. A few other key features the Disposable Fast Find Grid offers:

  • 1 cm markings across each slice for precise needle placement
  • Flexible grid material conforms closely to the patient’s anatomy for accurate imaging
  • Disposable grid prevents cross-contamination
  • Tape strips assure non-slip positioning
  • Fast, accurate pinpointing of area of concern saves time and money
  • Radio opaque grid yields a readily identifiable dot pattern on each CT image
  • Porous grid allows accurate marking of area with felt-tip or marking pen
  • Latex Free

This fast find grid saves physicians and medical professionals time. The grid saves time by increasing the accuracy of needle placement with the 1 cm markings. It also reduces time by having tape strips for non-slipping positioning and being very flexible as it conforms to the patients body with ease.

The fast find grid is a simple, disposable tool that can be used in all CT guided biopsies and drainage procedures and allows accurate results. If you have any questions regarding this topic, please let us know in the comment box below. Looking to try the fast find grid before you make your purchase? We are confident you will be satisfied with the disposable fast find CT grid that we will send you a free sample to try.


Pipettes: The Necessary Liquid Handling Instrument

Pipettes are a common laboratory tool that can transport liquids in precise measurements. This liquid handling instrument is often a necessity in many laboratory settings.

Pipettes are generally used in molecular biology, chemistry and medical testing along with various laboratory applications. When the top button is pressed, a partial vacuum is created to allow the pipette to draw in the intended amount of liquid. Pipettes are designed in various styles and differ in levels of accuracy and precision. Our pipettes are available in the following styles:

  • Adjustable Volume
  • Fixed Volume
  • Electronic
  • 8-Channel
  • 12-Channel
  • Repeater
  • Positive Displacement
  • Disposable Polyethylene

Positive displacement pipettes are often used to prevent contamination and are used for small volume substances, like DNA samples. The BrandTech Transferpettor Positive Displacement Pipettes are best used with liquids when traditional air-displacement pipettes are ineffective. The piston of the transferpettor directly ejects the media from the tip, wiping the tip walls completely clean. Results from this particular pipette are highly accurate, especially with viscous, high-vapor-pressure, and other dubious liquids. The positive displacement pipettes are often used in applications for wastewater treatment plants, biochemical, genetics, molecular biology laboratories and more.

The BrandTech Transferpette Electronic Single Channel Pipettes are ideally used in standard pipetting, sample mixing, reverse pipetting, step dispensing and gel loading. This ergonomic pipette has five volume ranges for reliable dispensing of volumes 0.5uL to 5mL. The large, LED screen with operational symbols is very easy to use.

There are many types of pipettes, differing in application use, volume size, accuracy, etc. If you have any questions or comments regarding our pipettes, please leave a comment below!

Microscopes: Which Type Is Right For Your Application?

Microscopes have become an essential tool in biology, education and research applications. Microscopes are available in a variety of types, which can make it confusing when determining which will compliment your needs best. This post highlights the different types of microscopes we offer to determine which is right for your application.

Stereo Microscopes

Stereo microscopes are designed for low magnification. This specific type of microscope has two eyepieces, helping the sample or object look three-dimensional. Stereo microscopes are typically used to study surfaces of solid samples, commonly in microsurgery, medical research, biology, education, manufacturing, and inspection purposes. This microscope is ideal for comparing two samples side by side.

Compound Microscopes

Compound microscopes are designed with two or more convex lenses, allowing a high magnification level. This microscope allows the user to see detailed micro-organisms, bacteria, blood samples, cells and tissues. Ideally the compound microscope is used in scientific, medical research, education and biology applications. This particular microscope has the ability to magnify a sample up to 1,000 times.

Biological Microscopes

Biological microscopes are often used to study organisms, cells, pond life samples, and other microscopic life forms. Most commonly used in education, benchtop, research and biology, the Nexcope CM200 Series Biological Monocular Microscope – LED Illumination is a popular biological microscope and is a rechargeable microscope with Green Friendly LED technology. This particular biological microscope has a 360 degree rotatable head and is built to last with die cast aluminum construction and all glass lenses.

Other factors to consider include the different types of eyepiece styles. Microscopes come in monocular, binocular or trinocular eyepieces. The monocular style has one eyepiece with the objective for monocular vision and magnification capabilities of 1,000 times. Binocular consists of two eyepieces which is ideal for slide samples and two eyepieces tend to be more comfortable for the user. Trinocular consists of three eyepieces, allowing for the ability to mount a camera on the third eyepiece for specific applications.

If you have any questions or comments regarding the different types of microscopes, please let us know below.

What Type Of Medical Scale Does Your Facility Need?

Is your medical facility using the appropriate medical scale? Having the right scale in a medical setting can make weighing patients easier and more efficient.

The accurate measuring of a patient’s weight isn’t only important, it’s required. Physicians and medical professionals often need to keep track of patient weight loss or weight gain. This information must be correct, that’s why we recommend our high-quality, precise medical scales.

So, what types of medical scales are out there? Well, different types are included in our full line of medical scales: chair scales, floor scales, digital scales, mechanical scales and wheelchair scales. For weighing patients in a wheelchair we offer the Digital Stationary Wheelchair Scale, which has a platform designed to accommodate most wheelchair sizes and comes with an attachable ramp. For medical professional on-the-go, we recommend the Digital Visiting Nurse Scale. This scale is lightweight and portable making them perfect for mobile clinics and home care nurses. For those looking for a more basic approach, the Personal Floor Scale is well-designed and easy to read while having a weight capacity of 350 lbs.

Your medical scale should ensure 100% accuracy. Whether you’re looking for a digital or mechanical form, our large variety of medical scales are used in many medical facilities and hospitals. Having the right medical scale in your health care facility, weight loss clinic, pediatric office or hospital is crucial for weighing patients accurately. If you have any questions or comments regarding our medical scales, please let us know below!

Clear Acrylic Vial Racks For Easy Handling

Vial racks come in all different shapes, colors and sizes. To best suit your laboratory needs, it’s important to consider the various features vial racks have. Vial racks in the laboratory serve to adequately store and transport test tubes, safely.

Some vial racks are made of durable acrylic and come in a clear color. This acrylic material is solid and will allow for multiple uses within a laboratory. Clear acrylic vial racks allow for excellent visibility of vial contents compared to those with solid colors. Being able to see the contents within the test tubes can be important, as it may save time and help keep laboratory professionals efficient. Vial racks are also a great way to keep organization among many test tubes. Staying organized certainly goes a long way in the medical field and will result in less confusion and fewer accidents.

Our Large Vial Rack can hold 25mm, 30mm and 40mm diameter vials. This unit is for high capacity test tube storage and transporting. This rack is clear to allow laboratory professionals easy viewing of vial contents or test tube labels. The Small Rack for 13mm Tubes is also a clear acrylic vial rack, but smaller in size. This unit is ideal for those working with a small amount of 13mm test tubes and are looking for a rack that doesn’t take up much counter space. Both vial racks can be assembled and disassembled for easy cleaning by simply unscrewing the side post by hand.

Durable vial racks are an essential element when transporting test tubes from one station to the next. In many labs, it is common for test tubes to be moved around and these durable racks will assist in a safe transport.

Are you using vial racks within your laboratory? Let us know by posting a comment below!