It's a new method of treating breast cancer. The non-surgical procedure is called cryo-ablation, or tumor freezing, a method that essentially kills cancer by freezing it.
Some surgeons believe that surgery isn't entirely necessary for certain small cancers of the breast.
"Many women do not require something as extreme as surgery for treatment of a very small cancer that's not aggressive," said Dr. Dennis Holmes, a breast cancer surgeon.
In fact, a recent national study that Dr. Holmes participated in found that cryo-ablation was nearly 100 percent effective in killing tumors smaller than 1.5 centimeters.
“In the experiences that we've had thus far, in every single case we've found there's no living cancer remaining at the cryo-ablation site," Holmes said.
Cryo-ablation is an ultrasound-guided procedure which allows the physician to direct the insertion of a cryoprobe into the tumor, and to monitor the tumor as it freezes.
At a temperature of minus 180 degrees, the tumor is frozen not once, but twice.
Currently, tumor freezing is available to participants of the Frost Trial, which is recruiting participants.
"The purpose of the trial is to demonstrate that we can indeed leave tumors in place without removing them when they're properly treated," Holmes said.
Some studies have found that leaving the dead tumor in place in the breast may allow the body to form an immune response to the dead tumor cells, which might strengthen the body's immune system and help it fight off future recurrences.
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