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Cryoablation of Breast Cancer

How Breast Tumor Cryoablation Is Showing Promise

According to research, breast tumor cryoablation is showing early indications of effectiveness in treating those with low-risk, estrogen-sensitive breast cancers measuring 1.5 cm or less. There has been a study done for years and during that time, there have only been 3 cases of cancer recurrence out of 304 patients. During the study, the breast tumor cryoablation was performed successfully on each patient, and there were no adverse side effects reported. All patients also received radiotherapy, anti-estrogen therapy, and lymph node biopsy.  With only 3 patients experiencing a recurrence, this means there is a 98.7% success rate for the study. A lumpectomy is about 95% to 98% effective at removing cancer.


Cryoablation has been used to treat cancers in other organs of the body, but is now becoming an established treatment for breast cancer. With the advancements in ultrasound and mammograms, it has enabled the detection of lower risk cancers earlier. These smaller and early-stage cancers have the potential to become life threatening and invasive without treatment. However, treatment options haven’t kept pace with the imaging advances. Doctors have been finding these smaller cancers but still treating them the same way as in the past. Instead, now there can be a new option to treat these cancers. With cryoablation, breast cancers are frozen and there is an advantage over ablation techniques that use heat to destroy the tumors.  Tumor ablation with freezing reduces pain and can be comfortably performed under local anesthesia.  Tumor ablation with heating causes pain and requires intravenous sedation or general anesthesia for pain relief.  A theoretical advantage of freezing ablation is that proteins released from cryoablated cancers are preserved in a way that allows the immune systemic to develop an anti-cancer immune response to the cancer proteins.  Heating ablation denatures or destroys tumor proteins making it hard for them to stimulate an anti-cancer immune response. 


Where cryoablation is best suited for those with small and low-risk cancers, larger cancers may sometimes be treated with cryoablation when the patient is unwilling to undergo surgery.  Some of these patients may have access to cryoablation through a clinical trial. Others patients may receive cryoablation outside of a clinical trials.  Cryoablation of larger or high-risk tumors is considered on a case by case basis.

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