Interventional radiologists have opened the door to an encouraging potential future treatment for the nearly 200,000 women who are diagnosed with breast cancer in the United States each year: image-guided, multi-probe cryotherapy. In the first reported study, researchers were able to successfully freeze breast cancer in patients who refused surgery; the women did not have to undergo surgery after treatment to ensure that tumors had been killed.
“Minimally invasive cryotherapy opens the door for a potential new treatment for breast cancer and needs to be further tested. When used for local control and/or potential cure of breast cancer, it provided safe and effective breast conservation with minimal discomfort for a group of women who refused invasive surgery or had a local recurrence and needed additional management,” Peter J. Littrup, MD, an interventional radiologist and director of imaging research and image-guided therapy for the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute in Detroit, said in a press release.
In the 13-patient study, no localized treatment recurrences were seen for up to 5 years, no significant complications were noted and women were pleased with the cosmetic outcomes, noted Littrup, who is also a professor of radiology, urology and radiation oncology at Wayne State University in Detroit. Cryotherapy was applied according to well-established freezing principles, and biopsies at the margins of the cryotherapy site immediately after the procedure and at the cryotherapy site in follow-up were all negative—showing no cancer, Littrup said.
A major difference between this study and all prior uses of breast cryotherapy is the confirmation of sufficient deadly temperatures when using two or more cryoprobes, Littrup said.
“With recent developments of powerful new cryotechnology, multiple directions for breast cryotherapy can be pursued, including translating the current, somewhat challenging, procedure done with ultrasound and/or CT guidance to a more consistent and reproducible MR-guided approach,” Littrup said.