Minimally Invasive Breast Cancer Cryotherapy Largely Ignored in U.S., Says Advocate and 13-Year Survivor

Minimally Invasive Breast Cancer Cryotherapy Largely Ignored in U.S., Says Advocate and 13-Year Survivor
PaulLauraLaura Ross-Paul of Portland, Oregon, calls herself a "patient pioneer," as one of the first women in the world to receive cryoablation as the primary treatment for her multi-focused breast cancer 13 years ago. Cryotherapy, also called cryosurgery, cryoablation or targeted cryoablation therapy, is a minimally invasive procedure that uses the application of extremely cold temperatures (cryo) to destroy diseased tissue (ablation), including cancer cells. For internal tumors, cryotherapy is carried out by using a cryoprobe -- a thin hollow wand-like device with a handle or trigger or a series of small needles, attached via tubing to a source of nitrogen or argon, which super-cools the probe tip through which cooled, thermally conductive fluids are circulated. Cryoprobes are inserted into or placed adjacent to diseased tissue in a way that ablation will provide correction, yielding benefit to the patient. The cryoprobe is placed in the proper position using imaging guidance, and as internal tissue is being frozen, the physician avoids damaging healthy tissue by viewing movement of the probe on ultrasound, computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance (MRI) images transmitted to a video monitor. With the probes in place, the cryogenic freezing unit removes heat from the tip of the probe and by extension from surrounding tissues. Ablation occurs in tissue that has been frozen by at least three mechanisms: • Formation of ice crystals within cells, thereby disrupting membranes and inte
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