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Icy Spot-Therapy Kills Metastatic Lung Tumors

New cryoablation technique is 100% effective, researchers say (Apr. 14)

Frozen balls of ice can safely kill cancerous tumors that have spread to the lungs, according to the first prospective multicenter trial of cryoablation. The results are being presented at the 38th Annual Scientific Meeting of the Society of Interventional Radiology (SIR) in New Orleans, Louisiana.

“Cryoablation has potential as a treatment for cancer that has spread to the lungs from other parts of the body and could prolong the lives of patients who are running out of options,” said co-author David A. Woodrum, MD, PhD. “We may not be able to cure the cancer, but with cryoablation we can at least slow it down significantly and allow patients to enjoy greater quality of life longer.”

Metastatic lung disease is difficult to treat and often signals a poor prognosis for patients.

In initial results of the ECLIPSE (Evaluating Cryoablation of Metastatic Lung/Pleura Tumors in Patients—Safety and Efficacy) trial, 22 subjects with a total of 36 tumors were treated with 27 cryoablation sessions. Cryoablation was 100% effective in killing the tumors at a 3-month follow-up. Follow-up at 6 months on five of the 22 patients (23%) showed that the treated tumors were still dead.

Cryoablation is performed by an interventional radiologist using a small needle-like probe guided through a nick in the skin to metastatic cancerous tumors inside the lung under medical-imaging guidance. Once in position, the tip of the instrument is cooled with gas to as low as minus 100 degrees Celsius. The resulting halo of ice crystals can destroy cancer by interrupting its cellular function, thereby protecting nearby healthy lung tissue, the researchers say. The procedure has shown low periprocedural morbidity.

“Most of these patients can go home the day after their cryoablation treatment and resume their normal activities,” Woodrum said, noting that the researchers plan to continue to follow patients for up to 5 years.

Source: SIR; April 14, 2013.

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