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Cryotherapy for Cancer Treatment 101

Breast Cancer Cryotherapy

"Cryotherapy uses extreme cold to freeze and kill cancer cells. It's also used to control pain and control bleeding... These ice crystals, along with the cold itself, destroy the cancer cells. Cryotherapy is used to regularly treat certain cancers and other lesions"
-www.Breastcancer.org

1. The Benefits of Cryotherapy for Cancer

A recently completed study by the American College of Surgeons Oncology Group (ACOSOG) found promising results in 86 patients with breast cancer treated with cryosurgery, but called for further evaluation.

There are several amazing advantages to be gained from Cryotherapy. These include the method’s simplicity, lack of pain, low morbidity, cost-effectiveness, and potential for positive cryo-immunologic effects. Freezing the tumor does not harm the surrounding tissues and does not produce significant scarring. Over time, the body’s normal healing processes reabsorb the tumor cells frozen by the cryoablation procedure.

This is how it works. All cells, including cancer cells, contain water. When cryotherapy freezes the cells, that water turns into ice crystals. These ice crystals, along with the cold itself, destroy the cancer cells. This is why cryogenic preservation has never been a viable option for living forever or hibernation in order to see the future.

However this makes Cryotherapy a big win for breast cancer patients because it conserves the breast, eliminates the need for surgery and kills the cancer. Remarkably, it also kills satellite breast cancers (in other regions and lymph nodes) 85% of the time as part of the “immune effect.”

In the 15% of cases where the immune effect does not work, patients can have another cryotherapy treatment or have surgery as a final back up plan.

Where as 35% of patients who undergo lumpectomy(surgery to remove cancer) note serious breast asymmetry, and morbidity rates of 11% for bleeding and 3% for infections.

 

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2. What types of Cancer can be Treated with Cryosurgery?

    Cryosurgery is used to treat several types of cancer, and some precancerous or noncancerous conditions. In addition to prostate and liver tumors, cryosurgery can be an effective treatment for the following:

Cryosurgery is also used to treat some types of low-grade cancerous and noncancerous tumors of the bone. It may reduce the risk of joint damage when compared with more extensive surgery, and help lessen the need for amputation as well. The treatment is also used to treat AIDS-related Kaposi sarcoma when the skin lesions are small and localized.

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3. What do the Patients think?

In another small but promising study, 13 women were able to kill breast cancer cells by freezing them, all 13 of the women were alive with no clinical evidence of cancer recurrence an average of 18 months, and up to five years, their tumors ranged in size from very small to very large.

Patients reported minimal pain and a high satisfaction with the cosmetic results, most patients had complete healing of the frozen area with very little to no scaring within six months after treatment.

Researchers are evaluating cryosurgery as a treatment for a number of cancers, including breast, colon and kidney cancer. They are also exploring cryotherapy in combination with other cancer treatments, such as hormone therapy, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or surgery.

unfortunately no further plans of research are scheduled, as the program didn’t receive the funding that they needed. Some other smaller studies are being conducted however.

Laura Ross-Paul of Portland, Oregon, (Pictured on the right) calls herself a “patient pioneer,” as one of the first women in the world to receive cryoablation as the primary treatment for her multi-focused breast cancer 13 years ago.

4. Parting Notes

Right now, cryotherapy is an experimental treatment for breast cancer. Scientists are studying whether cryotherapy might be a good alternative to breast cancer surgery, as well as what types of breast cancer cryotherapy would treat most effectively. If you’re interested in being part of a study on cryotherapy for breast cancer, visit the National Cancer Institute’s clinical trials search page and search for a breast cancer treatment trial on cryotherapy or cryosurgery.
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