Freeze The Suckers Dead!
This is exciting news for people with breast cancer. Research conducted by the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center has shown that freezing tumors with a cold probe can stop cancer dead in its tracks. As a bonus, when this cancer treatment method is utilized, it generates an immune response that helps stop the cancer’s spread, improving the patient’s chances of survival after surgery.
The study appears online in “Annals of Surgical Oncology”. Two different cryoablation – or cryosurgery – techniques were employed in the study involving mice with breast cancer, and the results were compared to results from mice whose tumors were removed with surgery. One method involves freezing the tumor rapidly, in about 30 seconds; the other freezes the tumor slowly, taking a few minutes.
The breast tumor was successfully killed with both cryoablation techniques. The mice treated with the rapid freeze had fewer tumors that spread to the lungs and improved survival compared to mice treated with surgery alone or mice treated with the slower freezing technique. The study showed that the benefit from the rapid freezing is likely due to changes in the immune system that help to kill the tumor. The immune system did not seem as able to kill the tumor when the slower freezing technique was used.
A clinical trial using cryoablation in patients with breast cancer is now underway. In this trial, researchers use the rapid freezing technique. Cryoablation is currently used routinely for prostate cancer, kidney cancer and a variety of cancers that have spread to the liver and bone.
“Cryoablation has strong potential as a treatment for breast cancer. Not only does it appear effective in treating the primary tumor with little cosmetic concerns, but it also may stimulate an immune response capable of eradicating any cells that have traveled throughout the body, reducing both local and distant recurrence, similar to giving a breast cancer vaccine,” says lead study author Michael Sabel, M.D., associate professor of surgery at the U-M Medical School.
“What we learned in this study is that all cryoablation is not equal. The technique used to freeze the tissue can have a significant impact on how the immune system responds. The system we use today appears to be ideal for both destroying the tumor within the breast and generating an anti-cancer immune response,” Sabel says.
University of Michican (U-M) researchers are participating in a national clinical trial to evaluate using cryoablation for early stage breast cancer. Participants will undergo rapid freezing of their tumor, and their blood samples will be analyzed to assess changes in their immune system. All participants will be treated three to four weeks later with standard surgery to remove their tumor.
For more information about the study, contact the U-M Cancer AnswerLine at 800-865-1125. To read the source article about how freezing breast tumors helps stop cancer spread, visit the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center website.