Cryoablation safe, effective therapy for liver metastases from breast cancer

Cryoablation has been found to be a safe and effective ablative therapy that offers a high rate of local tumor control in breast cancer liver metastases, according to a study published in the March 2014 issue of Clinical Radiology.

With almost half of breast cancer patients developing breast cancer liver metastases (BCLM), treatment options have looked grim until the recent development of interventional oncology treatments. “Initial clinical studies showed that cryoablation was effective for the local ablation of liver metastases from colorectal carcinoma and other abdominal tumours, with excellent local tumour control rates and therapeutic effects,” wrote lead author W. Zhang, PhD, of the Tianjin Medical University Cancer Institute and Hospital in China, and colleagues. “Nevertheless, few studies have examined cryoablation for BCLM to date.”

Zhang et al retrospectively examined the feasibility, safety, and effectiveness of percutaneous cryoablation for the treatment of patients with BCLM. CT- guided percutaneous cryoablation was performed for 39 lesions in 17 patients. Postoperative follow-up assessed liver function tests and abdominal enhanced CT before treatment, one month after cryoablation, and then every three months thereafter. The European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer Quality of Life Questionnaire C30 was used to determine patients’ quality of life before, one week, one month, and three months after cryoablation.

The therapy was successfully completed in 92 percent of the BCLMs and no mortality related to the procedure occurred during the follow-up period. After the one month follow-up, the primary technique effectiveness was 87.1 percent. Upon the three-month follow-up, local tumor progression was evident in six of the 39 lesions.

The one-year survival was 70.6 percent. The quality of life symptoms and functioning scales were preserved in patients alive at three months after cryoablation. The global quality of life showed statistically significant differences, with pain and fatigue decreasing significantly at three months, but no clinical significance was seen.

Although the study may have been limited by its retrospective design, small sample size, and relatively short follow-up period, “this promising technique will be further used and explored for its utility in the systemic treatment of metastasis in further trials using a prospective, controlled design,” concluded the study’s authors.