1 August 2016
***NOTE: Dr. Attai does not currently have cryoablation equipment.
Some patients with benign breast fibroadenomas are candidates for a non-surgical therapy called cryoablation. The procedure involves freezing the benign lump within the breast, and the mass reabsorbs without the need for surgical removal. The in-office procedure is performed under local anesthesia, and usually takes about 15 minutes. Ideal candidates are patients who have fibroadenomas less than 2cm in size. The lesion should not be close to the skin or nipple, and there is no data on the safety of the procedure in patients who have breast implants. A small percentage of patients who undergo ablative therapy for fibroadenomas will have a persistent palpable (able to be felt) lump. A position statement from the American Society of Breast Surgeons supports the use of cryoablation for the treatment of fibroadenomas in selected patients.
The results of a Phase II clinical trial which involved the use of cryoablation for the treatment of early-stage breast cancer were recently published. I was one of 20 investigators nationally who participated in this trial. All patients in the study underwent surgery after the cryoablation, so that the tissue could be evaluated by the pathologist. The study demonstrated excellent success rates when the breast cancer was less than one centimeter in size. Future research will involve cryoablation followed by observation (no surgery) to help determine which patients can safely avoid surgery. In addition, research is ongoing to determine if treating breast cancer by cryoablation can stimulate the immune system.