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

than surgery -- especially since many metastatic patients are not candidates for surgery -- and it may potentially lead to longer survival."

The eight patients in the study lived for an average of 46 months, and two survived for at least five years.

Dr. Hannah Linden, an oncology specialist and assistant professor at the University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle, said it's too early to know whether the treatment works since it hasn't been compared to other therapies.

"Many patients with metastatic breast cancer live a long time with gentle treatments, yet other patients who have relatively resistant tumors do poorly," she said. "While the idea of freezing a tumor to prevent it from growing is feasible and exciting, it is not proven that such an approach actually 'cures' patients or provides long-term benefit."

Although similar treatments target secondary tumors, she added, they "do not address the systemic problem of metastatic cancer. So, while it seems good to 'kill' the metastasis, the cancer is still lurking."

Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women, killing nearly 370,000 people worldwide each year. Approximately 10,000 to 15,000 new cases of stage 4 breast cancer occur in the United States each year, Littrup noted.

More information

For more about breast cancer, visit the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

-- Randy Dotinga

SOURCES: Society of Interventional Radiology, news release, March 26, 2012; Hannah Linden, M.D., assistant professor, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle


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