Talking about cryoablation and the idea of ”freezing” a tumor to end its cancerous activity may seem like something that happens only in science fiction films.
However, the results that are currently being obtained give us hope and are positive. Surgical intervention is more accurate, and the patient’s life expectancy increases. It is a new perspective within the medical field that is worth knowing.
Cryoablation, when ice becomes an ally in the face of breast cancer
We begin by clarifying something important. Cryoablation does not cure cancer. However, what it can achieve is the following:
- Reduce the spread of cancer cells.
- Increase life expectancy.
- Reduce the impact of interventions.
Still, cryoblation also does not make the patient reluctant to undergo more aggressive treatments before or after the procedure, such as chemotherapy or radiation therapy.
Cryoablation: A New Approach to Tumor Treatment
The first test of this procedure in humans was performed 13 years ago. The so-called “patient 0” was Laura Ross-Paul, a woman from Oregon (United States), diagnosed with breast cancer in its early stages.
The procedure was quick and effective, it only left some scars. A pioneering intervention that effectively saved her life. Let us now look at what it consists of:
- Cryotherapy is performed through the use of a cryoprobe. It is a device that looks like a very thin, hollow wand.
- It is attached to a source of nitrogen or argon, which cools the probe quickly.
- The radiologist performs the intervention, aided by the images of computed tomography and contrast liquid injected into the patient.
- Little by little, the tumor is frozen, as are the possible affected tissues. The doctor avoids at all times damaging healthy tissue, while the cryogenic freezing unit eliminates the cancerous cells.
An intervention of just over half an hour
Breast tumors less than 1 centimeter in diameter treated with cryoablation do not develop residual cancer after treatment. This is undoubtedly a fact that gives us much hope, but, as we see, for success rates to be so positive, the disease must be in its early stages.
The American Society of Breast Surgeons has already applied this new approach for years, with good results. With cryoablation, patients do not go to an operating room. It is an intervention of just over half an hour, which can be performed without the need for hospitalization.
In comparison to traditional surgery, cryoablation is a very effective non-surgical treatment for breast cancer in a large number of patients. But there are cases in which this approach did not give the expected response.
However, what has already been noted is that the tumor is inactive, most cancer cells die, and the rest have a much slower progress. Thus, in some cases, it should be applied to chemo or radiotherapy.
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