First multi-center trial shows cryosurgery successful at treating some early-stage breast cancer

May 06, 2004

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Imagine being treated for breast cancer right in your doctor's office, with an incision as small as a pinprick to show for it. New research from seven cancer centers suggests this might one day be possible.

In a process called cryoablation, surgeons freeze the tumors to kill the cells. The technique is already used as a non-surgical treatment for benign breast disease. Results of the study, published in the May issue of the Annals of Surgical Oncology, found cryoablation is effective at killing cancerous cells in small tumors.

Although still an experimental treatment for breast cancer, these findings move cryosurgery one step closer to clinical application for early stage disease.

As mammograms and other imaging techniques become more sophisticated, doctors are able to find breast cancer earlier, when tumors are very small. Progress in detection has led to an increased interest in developing alternatives to traditional surgery for early-stage cancer.

"This trial shows that cryoablation is a safe, well-tolerated office-based procedure that holds real promise for treating early stage breast cancer," says Michael Sabel, M.D., a surgical oncologist from the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center and lead author of the study.

In late 2003, University of Michigan Health System researchers reported findings from a preliminary study, focusing on the UMHS results. The current paper reflects the results of seven trial centers from across the country.

The study followed 27 women with primary invasive breast cancers no larger than 2.0 centimeters in diameter. One to four weeks following ultrasound-guided cryoablation, the women's tumors were removed by lumpectomy and studied to determine whether cryoablation was effective.

Cryoablation is an outpatient procedure requiring only local anesthesia. Directed by ultrasound images, a physician guides a disposable probe through a small breast incision and into the center of the tumor. Super-cold argon gas flows through the probe, forming an iceball that engulfs the tumor and nearby tissue. To complete the procedure, the iceball is allowed to thaw, and another freeze-thaw cycle is repeated. The probe is then removed and the incision closed with a bandage.

Of the 27 procedures performed in the study, cryoablation successfully destroyed all cancers less than 1.0 centimeters in diameter. The procedure was equally effective for tumors between 1.0 and 1.5 centimeters in those women with a type of cancer called invasive ductal carcinoma who did not have significant ductal carcinoma-in-situ, a non-invasive breast cancer, in the surrounding tissue. Cryoablation was not shown effective for tumors larger than 1.5 centimeters in diameter.

"Right now, its application should be limited to patients with invasive ductal carcinomas no larger than 1.5 centimeters. But we're continuing to determine the boundaries of the procedure," Sabel says.

Sabel notes that a follow-up study will begin soon at U-M and other centers to learn more. "But as is the case with this study," he cautions, "patients enrolled in that study will be required to undergo a lumpectomy following the procedure. More data is needed before we'll be able to offer cryosurgery alone as a treatment for breast cancer."
Funding for the study came from Sanarus Medical Inc., who developed the cryoablation probe used in the study.

In addition to Sabel, the other authors of the study included: Cary S. Kaufman, M.D., the University of Washington Bellingham Breast Center; Pat Whitworth, M.D., Nashville Breast Center; Helena Chang, M.D., Ph.D., Revlon UCLA Breast Center, Los Angeles; Lewis Stocks, M.D., Ph.D., Executive Surgical Center, Raleigh, N.C.; Rache Simmons, M.D., Weill Medical College, Cornell University, New York; and Michael Schultz, M.D., Surgery Center of Greater Baltimore, Owings Mills, Md.

Patients wishing to learn more about the procedure or other treatments for breast cancer can contact the U-M Cancer AnswerLine at 1-800-865-1125.

University of Michigan Health System

Related Breast Cancer Articles from Brightsurf:

Oncotarget: IGF2 expression in breast cancer tumors and in breast cancer cells
The Oncotarget authors propose that methylation of DVDMR represents a novel epigenetic biomarker that determines the levels of IGF2 protein expression in breast cancer.

Breast cancer: AI predicts which pre-malignant breast lesions will progress to advanced cancer
New research at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, could help better determine which patients diagnosed with the pre-malignant breast cancer commonly as stage 0 are likely to progress to invasive breast cancer and therefore might benefit from additional therapy over and above surgery alone.

Partial breast irradiation effective treatment option for low-risk breast cancer
Partial breast irradiation produces similar long-term survival rates and risk for recurrence compared with whole breast irradiation for many women with low-risk, early stage breast cancer, according to new clinical data from a national clinical trial involving researchers from The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center - Arthur G.

Breast screening linked to 60 per cent lower risk of breast cancer death in first 10 years
Women who take part in breast screening have a significantly greater benefit from treatments than those who are not screened, according to a study of more than 50,000 women.

More clues revealed in link between normal breast changes and invasive breast cancer
A research team, led by investigators from Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, details how a natural and dramatic process -- changes in mammary glands to accommodate breastfeeding -- uses a molecular process believed to contribute to survival of pre-malignant breast cells.

Breast tissue tumor suppressor PTEN: A potential Achilles heel for breast cancer cells
A highly collaborative team of researchers at the Medical University of South Carolina and Ohio State University report in Nature Communications that they have identified a novel pathway for connective tissue PTEN in breast cancer cell response to radiotherapy.

Computers equal radiologists in assessing breast density and associated breast cancer risk
Automated breast-density evaluation was just as accurate in predicting women's risk of breast cancer, found and not found by mammography, as subjective evaluation done by radiologists, in a study led by researchers at UC San Francisco and Mayo Clinic.

Blood test can effectively rule out breast cancer, regardless of breast density
A new study published in PLOS ONE demonstrates that Videssa® Breast, a multi-protein biomarker blood test for breast cancer, is unaffected by breast density and can reliably rule out breast cancer in women with both dense and non-dense breast tissue.

Study shows influence of surgeons on likelihood of removal of healthy breast after breast cancer dia
Attending surgeons can have a strong influence on whether a patient undergoes contralateral prophylactic mastectomy after a diagnosis of breast cancer, according to a study published by JAMA Surgery.

Young breast cancer patients undergoing breast conserving surgery see improved prognosis
A new analysis indicates that breast cancer prognoses have improved over time in young women treated with breast conserving surgery.

Read More: Breast Cancer News and Breast Cancer Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to