Cryoablation: A New Treatment Option for Breast Cancer

Cryoablation has been shown to be effective in treating early tumors. While we still can’t say that it will cure cancer, it may help slow its progression.
Cryoablation: A New Treatment Option for Breast Cancer

Last update: 07 March, 2019

Talking about cryoablation and the idea of “freezing” a tumor to stop cancerous activity could very well seem to be something out of science fiction.

The results we’re seeing today, however, are as hopeful as they are positive.

This is both a straightforward approach and a sophisticated one. A trained radiologist only needs to insert a small needle probe through the skin of the chest.

Once there, the primary tumors and any potential new growths are identified and then frozen.

It’s not just a new medical strategy for treating breast cancer. Cryoablation has also become a good option for lung or prostate cancer.

This surgery is more precise and increases the life expectancy of the patient.

It’s a new treatment in the field of medicine that’s worth learning a little more about.

Cryoablation, when ice fights breast cancer

A woman covering breasts with her hands.

We’ll start by clarifying something important. Cryoablation does not cure cancer. However, what you will see is the following:

  • Reduced spread of cancer cells
  • Increased life expectancy
  • Reduced impact of cancer treatment

In addition to that, cryoablation does not prevent the patient from undergoing other, more aggressive treatments like chemotherapy or radiation either before or after.

This approach generally offers positive results when applied during the early stages of cancer. In its more advanced stages, a doctor will have to decide what strategies to pursue.

Let’s take a look at some more information.

Cryoablation: a new approach for the treatment of tumors

The first tests in humans for this technique were performed 13 years ago. The so-called “Patient 0” was Laura Ross-Paul, a woman from Oregon who was diagnosed with breast cancer in the first stage.

The technique was quick and effective in spite of the fact that it left a mark. It was a novel intervention that in fact saved her life. Let’s see what it consists of:

  • Cryotherapy is carried out with the use of a probe. It’s a device that’s similar to a very thin and hollow wand.
  • It’s attached to a source of nitrogen or argon, which rapidly cools the probe.
  • The person who administers the therapy is a specialized radiologist who creates a puncture in the chest using imagery and tomography, along with a liquid dye injected into the patient’s bloodstream.
  • Little by little, the tumors and any other potentially affected tissues are frozen. The radiologist avoids damaging healthy tissue, targeting only cancerous cells for cryogenic freeze.

This treatment takes a little more than half an hour

Cryoablation can freeze cancerous tumors to slow them or stop them.

  • Tumors that are smaller than a centimeter in diameter do not develop into more advanced cancerous stages after treatment with cryoablation.

This is no doubt a very hopeful finding, but for high success rates with this disease the treatment must be carried out in the early stages.

  • The American Society of Breast Surgeons has also been using this technique for a few years and with good results.

With cryoablation, patients don’t have to be admitted to an operating room. The intervention takes a little more than half an hour and can be performed while the patient is awake, without more invasive treatment.

  • Compared to traditional surgery, cryoablation is a highly effective, non-surgical treatment for breast cancer for a good number of patients. Yes, there are some cases in which this treatment has not had the expected results.
  • However, what has been discovered is the fact that the majority of cancerous cells die and the progress of any remaining tumors is much slower. In some cases, this treatment is followed by chemotherapy or radiation.

Also good results for lung cancer

As we mentioned in the beginning, cryoablation is being applied to other types of cancer.

Many of the studies that have been carried out to explore its utility, such as one published in ScienceDaily, show that this therapy manages to stop the advancement of tumors that are present in the lungs.

  • In the above study, 22 patients with lung cancer were treated with cryoablation. After 27 sessions of cryoablation over three months, the therapy was 100% effective in five patients.
  • The remaining patients saw the incidence of their tumors decrease. The cancer was still present, but the malignant activity had been reduced significantly.

This may help patients enjoy a longer and better-quality life.

You can find out more about this advance in cancer therapy in the journal Radiology.

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