Metastatic Breast Cancer and Cryoablation

Individuals fighting metastatic breast cancer, where the disease has progressed to other areas of the body, may finally have another weapon in their arsenal: percutaneous cryoablation. The cancer treatment could potentially be used as a last line of defense to halt individual spots of remaining metastatic disease by freezing and destroying tumors, say researchers presenting a study at the Society of International Radiology’s 37th Annual Scientific Meeting in San Francisco, Calif.

Cryoablation is a local treatment for single, small metastatic breast cancer tumors, especially in women who aren’t good surgery candidates. Guided by imaging (ultrasound, CT scan, or MRI), cryoablation inserts a special freezing probe (a type of catheter) through the skin and to the tumor to be treated. Once the tip of the probe is in the right spot inside the tumor core, pressurized argon gas is injected through the probe into the tumor, freezing and destroying the cancerous tissue. Cryoablation techniques may vary from one cancer treatment facility to another. Cryoablation is more common in cases where the breast cancer is being well controlled by systemic treatments. Cryoablation may also be called percutaneous ablation, cryosurgery or cryotherapy.

Advantage of Cryoablation over Surgery:

1. Cryoablation has little to no recovery time.

2. Cryoalblation provides a minimal rate of cancer recurrence and no major complications.

3.  For many metastatic patients, who are not candidates for surgery. cryoablation gives an opportunity to them for survival.

Experimental results:

The eight women survived for an average of about 4 years from the time metastatic breast cancer was diagnosed and an average of 2.5 years after cryoablation. Four of the women lived for more than 5 years after being diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer.

Already, Cryoablation is used in the treatment of

1. Prostate Cancer

2. Retinoblastoma (a childhood cancer that affects the retina of the eye).

3. Early-stage skin cancers (both basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas).  

4. Precancerous conditions of the cervix known as cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (abnormal cell changes in the cervix that can develop into cervical cancer).