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'Freezing' Secondary Breast Cancer Tumors Shows Promise
Date:3/26/2012

MONDAY, March 26 (HealthDay News) -- In a small and preliminary study, researchers report that they successfully froze secondary tumors in patients with incurable breast cancer.

The findings raise the prospect of a potential new treatment for metastatic tumors in individual patients, although the research is in the very early stages.

"This therapy provides a minimal rate of cancer recurrence and no major complications," study co-author Dr. Peter Littrup, director of imaging core and radiology research at the Karmanos Cancer Institute in Detroit, said in a news release from the Society of Interventional Radiology.

The study is scheduled to be presented Wednesday at the society's annual meeting in San Francisco. Research presented at medical meetings should be viewed as preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed medical journal.

"This is a preliminary study, and at this point we're hoping that the evidence could be a stepping stone for a bigger study to look at more patients," Littrup said. "If we can get more data that supports percutaneous cryoablation for metastatic breast cancer, it could be a huge finding."

In percutaneous cryoablation, tiny probes insert pressurized argon gas into tumors and kill them by turning them into balls of ice.

The eight patients in the study had stage 4 metastatic breast cancer, meaning their tumors had spread widely from the breast. The tumors frequently appear in organs such as the liver, lungs, bones and kidneys.

In stage 4, the disease is considered incurable.

"At this point, treatments are considered palliative -- with the intent to keep metastases at bay while hopefully providing individuals more time and improved quality of life, rather than a complete cure," Littrup said.

"Cryoablation as a targeted therapy is beneficial because it can significantly reduce discomfort and incidence of disease," Littrup said. "It's a much better option, we think,
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