What is cryoablation?
Cryoablation is a new and innovative method for treating breast cancer that is still undergoing active research. Cryoablation has a history of treating other tumor types, including renal, prostate, liver, and cervical cancers. Despite the active research, it is already a widely used and accepted treatment for benign breast tumors such as fibroadenomas.
The results of multiple ongoing cryoablation studies indicate that it may be an effective treatment for early-stage invasive ductal breast cancer measuring 2 cm or smaller, which can eliminate the need for conventional surgery.
How does it work?
Cryoablation uses a needle-like instrument inside which liquid nitrogen circulates, creating ultra-freezing temperatures that are then used to kill tumor cells.
The cryoablation procedure is similar to the needle biopsy that is typically performed during the process of diagnosing breast cancer. This procedure is performed at our outpatient office with local anesthesia and takes approximately 30 minutes. The patient can then return home.
During your cryoablation procedure, Dr. Plaza will use ultrasound technology to guide the insertion, and precise positioning of a specialized tool called a cryoprobe. Dr. Plaza will adjust the positioning of the cryoprobe needle until it rests in the middle of the cancerous area. Liquid nitrogen will then pass through the cryoprobe to form an ice ball that completely engulfs and destroys the tumor.
The procedure includes two freeze-thaw cycles; the initial freezing usually lasts 10 minutes, followed by a 10-minute thawing phase, then by another 10 minutes of freezing.
After the second freezing, the cryoprobe is warmed up and withdrawn from the breast tissue. Pressure is placed on the skin opening and held for a few minutes, followed by applying a bandage.
Is Cryoablation right for you?
The choice to undergo cryoablation is a very personal one and should be made after factoring in your unique feelings toward mastectomy and lumpectomy, as well as the individual characteristics of your specific tumor, such as size, location, biology, and stage. Some women are inclined to avoid surgery if it can be avoided, whereas others choose to undergo lumpectomy or mastectomy regardless of tumor size.
Many women are drawn to cryoablation because of the ease of treatment, while others are more inclined to undergo a lumpectomy, mastectomy, or breast reconstruction. A woman’s overall health may influence her decision to choose cryoablation over other procedures; for example, women with multiple health conditions may prefer cryoablation to avoid complications or difficulties associated with surgery and general anesthesia. Healthy women with smaller breasts, on the other hand, may simply opt for cryoablation to avoid the cosmetic impact of a mastectomy or lumpectomy.
A typical requirement of cryoablation is that you have a limited area of disease that is preferably visible through ultrasound and can be easily seen by such an imaging study since breast cryoablation procedures are performed using guidance from ultrasound technology. In general, women with invasive breast cancers under 2 centimeters in size are the best candidates for cryoablation treatment. However, larger tumors can still qualify for cryoablation, albeit case-by-case.
We are happy to provide a free consultation to see if you may be a candidate for cryoablation. Thank you for allowing us to participate in your care!