What is cryoablation for breast cancer?

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
Cryoablation involves using extreme cold to freeze and destroy cancerous and benign tumors. This technique, if successful, may replace traditional surgeries for some women with cancerous tumors. The technique is currently under investigation in hospitals all over the country.

Dr. Rache Simmons, chief breast surgeon at the New York Presbyterian Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York City, is the lead investigator of this trial. “One of the reasons why I like cryoablation is because it’s so painless for the patient," she says. "When you make the tiny little skin incision, and you go in with the probe, and you then begin the freezing process -- the freezing itself acts like an anesthetic.”

Early research also suggests that using cryoablation to kill cancer cells may stimulate the immune system to fight off any cancer recurrence. Simmons adds, “With the freezing, the cells actually burst, and so the cells die, but the cancer DNA is then released into your system. It’s not viable or live, but it’s recognizable by your own body’s immune response. That’s what we think is happening with the cryo that we don’t think is happening with the other technologies.”

Time will tell if this procedure is more effective than surgery at curing some types of breast cancer.
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