This Freezing Technique Could Be the Next Frontier in Breast Cancer Treatment


A treatment using extreme cold has proven successful in destroying large tumors in people with breast cancer who are ineligible for surgery. The technique, called cryoablation, is already used to freeze and eliminate small cancerous tumors.

Because this cryoablation technique has been shown to be effective in treating tumors smaller than 1.5 centimeters (cm) (just over half an inch in diameter), researchers set out to find if it would work on larger tumors as well, examining outcomes in women who had an average tumor size of 2.5 cm (about an inch in diameter).

In a presentation at the Interventional Radiology Annual Scientific Meeting in Salt Lake City held March 23–28, scientists revealed that in 60 patients who had received the cryoablation procedure, the cancer recurrence rate was 10 percent at a median follow-up point of 16 months, meaning cancer returned in just six patients.

“When treated with only radiation and hormonal therapy, tumors will eventually return. So the fact that we saw only a 10 percent recurrence rate in our study is incredibly promising,” said Yolanda Bryce, MD, a study leader and an interventional radiologist at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, in a press release.

Dr. Bryce and her collaborators note that if tumors do return, patients can be treated with cryoablation multiple times to control growth.


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