Cryotherapy freezes away cancer

Technological advancements are allowing specialists now using cold to help fight certain breast cancers.

HOUSTON, Texas – A relatively new procedure could be a game-changer for those with breast cancer

“The first thing that happens is the needle goes right through the cancer then the ice ball forms and we see this ice ball growing under ultrasound guidance or MRI guidance” right along this edge. That’s the ice,” said Dr. Luz Venta, describing cryoblation, a process that uses extreme cold to destroy tissue.

“First the cells die when you freeze them and then when the ice ball melts you don’t see it during the imaging procedure but the cells pretty much break off and spill their antigens and that is the part that the immune system sees,” Venta said.

Once the immune system sees the cancer cells, it can fight them off

“Since the 1920s the treatment for breast cancer has been surgical,” Venta said.

But with technological advancements and better understanding, specialists can now use the cold to help fight certain breast cancers.

“It is less invasive than having your teeth cleaned,” said 86-year-old Helen Streaker who was recently diagnosed with breast cancer for the third time in her life.

She was a poor surgical risk and not a good candidate for chemo or radiation.

Instead, Streaker had a second round of cryoablation.

“This is a photo of the incision. Look at that. Look at my fingernail, how small,” she said pointing to a picture of her scar.

Now Streaker is spreading the word.

“It has been my passion to tell people about this because I don’t want women to have unnecessary surgery,” she said.

The cryoablation procedure is done on an outpatient basis and can typically take less than an hour.

About the Author:

Kristi Krueger has built a solid reputation as an award-winning medical reporter and effervescent anchor. She joined Local 10 in August 1993. After many years co-anchoring the 6 p.m. and 11 p.m., Kristi now co-anchors the noon newscasts, giving her more time in the evening with her family.