Freezing tumors may effectively stop spread of breast cancer

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Michael Sabel, MD, associate professor of surgery at the U-M Medical School, and colleagues, compared the results achieved when using two different cryoablation techniques to remove tumors from mice to the results achieved when using surgery. 

Not only did both cryoablation techniques successfully kill breast tumors, but mice treated with a rapid freeze method had fewer tumors that spread to the lungs and experienced improved survival compared to mice treated with surgery alone or mice treated with the slower freezing technique.

“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,” said Dr. Sabel.

According to the press release announcing the findings, U-M researchers are participating in a national clinical trial to evaluate 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.

The study's findings are published in Annals of Surgical Oncology (2010 April; 17(4):1187-1193).

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