(HealthDay News) — Laser ablation may be an effective way to treat small breast cancers, potentially eliminating the need for lumpectomy, new research suggests. Study findings on the laser technique were scheduled to be presented at the annual San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium, held from Dec. 8 to 12 in San Antonio.

The laser ablation technique used in this study is called Novilase Breast Therapy. It involves placing small probes in the center of the cancer and then using heat from the laser to destroy the tumors.

The researchers behind the new study evaluated 60 women with early-stage breast cancers that measured up to 2 cm in diameter. The women were treated at various sites in the United States and the United Kingdom. The women in the study also had radiation therapy. Four weeks after the ablation treatment, the treated tissue was removed through surgery. The researchers then examined this tissue to look for remaining cancer cells. The women also underwent magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

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The researchers found that 91 percent of the patients had complete ablation of the cancer when the laser procedure was performed according to technical guidelines. Overall, there was an 84 percent complete tumor ablation rate with the laser treatment. The researchers also found that the MRI findings were similar to the laboratory pathology findings. That suggests that in the future MRI alone could be used to track success of the laser treatment, Barbara Schwartzberg, M.D., a breast cancer surgeon at the Sarah Cannon Research Institute at Rose Medical Center in Denver, told HealthDay.

Schwartzberg is also the chief medical officer for Novian Health, the company behind Novilase Breast Therapy, and the sponsor of the study.

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