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Cryotherapy Freezes Breast Cancer

Cryotherapy Freezes Breast Cancer

Future patients suffering from breast cancer may be able to literally freeze the tumor…

A small but promising study suggests that cryotherapy, a procedure typically used to treat prostate cancer, could be applied as an effective treatment for breast cancer.

If further studies confirm these early findings, breast cancer patients could one day be able to opt for a simple outpatient’s procedure to freeze the tumor, as an alternative to surgery.

In the clinical trials, researchers were able to kill breast cancer cells by freezing them using a technique known as image-guided, multiprobe cryotherapy.

Cryotherapy Treatment For Breast Cancer

Cryotherapy Treatment For Breast Cancer

All of the 13 women who participated in the trail were still alive and showed no clinical evidence of cancer recurrence at an average of 18 months, up to five years after having the procedure. They also reported minimal pain and a high satisfaction with the cosmetic results following the treatment.

The 13 patients had a total of 25 tumors, ranging in size from 0.5 centimeters to 5.8 centimeters. The average tumor size was 1.7 centimeter.

Pioneer of cryotherapy, Peter J. Littrup, MD, says the findings show that even large breast tumors can be successfully treated with the nonsurgical freezing technique.

Cryotherapy works by delivering a very low temperature gas to the tumor using needle-like probes. Littrup explained that a single-probe freezing approach has been used for several years to treat breast cancer, but it is widely considered to be unsuitable for tumors larger than 1.5 centimeters.

Weve been using multiple probes for many years to treat prostate cancer with a minimum of five probes. So it just made sense to me to try multiple probes for breast cancer.

He added that recent technological advances resulting in smaller and easier-to-manage probes and better ways to guide them to the tumor have made nonsurgical cryotherapy an attractive option for breast cancer.

Using local anesthesia with mild sedation, an average of three probes per tumor were guided to the tumor site using either ultrasound alone or ultrasound with computed tomography (CT) imaging. The probes produced ice balls ranging in size from 2 centimeters to 10 centimeters, depending on the size of the targeted tumor.

Littrup says most patients had complete healing of the frozen area with very little or no scaring within six months.

He hopes to conduct larger studies in breast cancer patients using a cryotechnology procedure that uses magnetic resonance (MR) to guide the probes. Littrup developed and has patented this technology, and he says it is potentially useful in the treatment of many types of cancer.

The study was presented at the Society of Interventional Radiologys 35th Annual Scientific Meeting in Tampa, Fla.

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