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Freezing Tumors Shows Promise Against Prostate, Breast Cancer
Date:3/16/2010

Cryotherapy prevented need for surgery in one group, and thwarted recurrence in the other

TUESDAY, March 16 (HealthDay News) -- Researchers have succeeded in freezing away breast and prostate tumors in a small number of patients, opening a promising door to a new generation of cancer treatments.

In two separate studies to be presented Tuesday at the Society of Interventional Radiology's annual meeting in Tampa, Fla., research teams reported success using cryotherapy to freeze and destroy malignant tumors. In the prostate cancer patients, cryotherapy occurred after surgery, while the women in the breast cancer study had no surgery.

Cryotherapy has been used in different oncology settings in the past, but these studies were innovative in that they used multiple probes to kill the tumor and/or MRI to guide the procedure.

The prostate study involved four patients whose cancer had recurred after prostate removal. All had had some radiation treatment in addition to surgery.

"We found a subgroup of patients . . . where we have basically exhausted everything we can do for them," said study lead author Dr. David A. Woodrum, interventional radiologist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.

Two of the prostate cancer patients underwent cryoablation, which uses very low temperatures to kill the tumor, while the other two underwent thermal therapy, which uses high temperatures to achieve the same goal. This approach was also successful.

"We used magnetic resonance imaging to place somewhere between one and three probes [basically small needles] into the tumor and then we perform the ablation," Woodrum said. "We don't have a radiation risk, so we can use sequential imaging approximately every six to 10 seconds to image the area and see either the tissue heating up from the laser or the tissue freezing from the cryoablation."

The imaging allowed extra precision so that adjacent organs, such
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