Ultrasound-guided cryoablation of small breast cancer may be a safe procedure associated with minimal morbidity and high patient satisfaction, according to a recent case report by radiologists at the University of Wisconsin Hospital.
The report presents a case of an 85-year-old woman with two small ( < 1 cm ) biopsy proven invasive ductal carcinomas that were treated with ultrasound-guided cryoablation alone (tissue destruction by controlled freezing and thawing).
"The patient refused surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy or chemoprevention therapy," says Gale A. Sisney, MD, lead author of the report. In all but one published case, cryoablation in breast cancer has been followed by surgery to remove the tumor. The patient had "an excellent cosmetic result, with no scar or volume reduction in her breast," said Dr. Sisney. She is also without known progressive disease at one year mammographic and ultrasound follow-up, Dr. Sisney added.
The patient had absolutely no pain during the procedure and was fully alert and talking. At one year follow up we can not see the incision sites," said Dr. Sisney.
"Over the first year of follow up, the tumors slowly are 'melting' away on imaging as the body presumably reabsorbed the tissue. It is exciting that others have suggested that an immune response may be occurring that may give additional protection," she said. "Many questions remain unanswered regarding the use of cryoablation.
Clinical trials will be needed to further understand the feasibility of cryoablation in minimal breast cancer treatment. While cryoablation of breast cancer is currently an investigational technique, cryoablation of benign fibroadenomas in the breast has recently become available as a FDA approved clinical procedure. This case supports the findings already in the literature regarding the safety and efficacy of cryoablation in small breast tumors," Dr. Sisney said.