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Researchers Test Freezing Of Breast Cancer Tumors

Breast cancer cell: ©Fuda Cancer Hospital-GuangzhouBreast cancer cell: ©Fuda Cancer Hospital-Guangzhou A small but promising study was conducted by Peter J. Littrup, M.D. and his team at the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute in Detroit, MI, in which 13 women with breast cancer were treated with a minimally invasive technique - image guided cryotherapy, the freezing to death of tumor cells.

Cryotherapy has been used to destroy cancerous and diseased cells for many years on skin tumors, moles, nodules, and even on prostate, liver, and cervical cancers with the aid of ultrasound, computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance (MR) to help locate the tumors.  Breast tumors have also been removed with cryotherapy or cryosurgery.

But in the Littrup breast cancer study, interventional radiologists determined sufficient temperatures that would destroy the cancerous tissue using one or two cryopropes.  Through just a nick of the skin, the cryopropes were guided by ultrasound, or ultrasound with CT or MR, so that the surgeons could see the the exact spot of each tumor and literally freeze the tumors to death with a sizable surrounding margin.

In five years of follow up, none of the 13 patients had recurrences and all were pleased with the outcomes - low pain and excellent healing with minimal scarring.  Though larger studies are surely necessary, cryotherapy may soon be added to a woman's options when confronted with the knowledge that she has breast cancer. As surgery goes, cryosurgery is barely invasive at all.

Society of Interventional Radiology