Cryoablation - Breast Cancer

The University of Arizona Medical Center Breast Imaging Center is pleased to announce the availability of cryoablation for the minimally invasive treatment of breast fibroadenomas.

Although a fibroadenoma is not life-threatening, treatment may be desired because this benign tumor can cause physical deformity, discomfort, or emotional distress.

Traditionally, open excisional biopsy (i.e. surgery) has been the only option. But now, a minimally invasive option is available that can be performed in the office under local anesthesia. Cryoablation for treating fibroadenomas is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). And since 2010, over 2000 fibroadenomas had been successfully and safely treated with this method.

What is cryoablation?

Cryoablation is the use of extreme cold to destroy a breast tumor without surgery. A thin metal probe is passed through the center of the tumor with the assistance of ultrasound guidance. The tip of the metal probe is cooled to extremely low temperatures (-256°F). This freezes and kills the breast tumor without harming the surrounding tissues and without any significant scarring.

cryo2.jpgcryo1.jpg

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How is cryoablation procedure done in the office?

Cryoablation is a quick procedure that is done in the office, not the Operating Room. Patients are evaluated by a Breast Radiologist to confirm that they indeed have a fibroadenoma. Evaluation consists of an examination, breast ultrasound and core needle biopsy. Once the fibroadenoma is confirmed, the cryoablation procedure is scheduled if the patient requires treatment.

Cryoablation does not require general anesthesia. After injection of a local anesthetic, ultrasound monitoring is used to help guide a 2mm metal probe into the center of the fibroadenoma. The tip of the probe is then cooled to extremely low temperatures, which turns the tumor into a small ball of ice, and kills the tumor.The procedure takes approximately 10–15 minutes. After which, the metal probe is removed and the patient may immediately resume normal activities.

2. Is cryoablation uncomfortable?

Clinical studies and my own personal experience have shown that there is minimal discomfort during or after cryoablation. Most patients take only one or two acetaminophen (Tylenol) tablets after cryoablation.

3. What are the advantages of Cryoablation?

Cryoablation of fibroadenomas is approved by the FDA as a safe and effective alternative to surgery. There are several advantages to cryoablation over that of surgery. 

  Cryoablation  Surgery 
Length of incision 2 mm 10 mm
Anesthesia required Local General
Amount of time for procedure 10–30 minutes 1 hour
Time in health care facility 1 hour 4-5 hours
Amount of time out of work Less than one day 7 days

4. Does health insurance cover cryoablation of fibroadenomas?

Many health insurance companies cover the cryoablation of fibroadenomas. We will work with your insurance company to determine coverage and approval prior to the procedure.