Study: Cryoablation puts a chill on ovarian cancer tumors

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Cryoablation has been shown to be an effective form of treatment for ovarian cancer, and this “freeze and destroy” technique could offer an alternative to surgery or chemotherapy for patients whose disease is in the late stages and oligometastatic, according to research published in the Journal of Vascular and Interventional Radiology and presented at the 2012 International Symposium on Endovascular Therapy in Miami in January.

Hyun Bang, MD, of the department of radiology at Wayne State University School of Medicine in Detroit, and colleagues performed a study of 21 ovarian cancer patients who underwent ultrasound-guided, percutaneous cryoablation in order to assess complications, recurrences and overall survival. Forty-eight tumors on the soft tissue, liver and lungs were treated during the seven-year study period.

Results showed that the median survival was 56.9 months, though the authors noted an average period of 37.8 months occurred between the diagnosis of metastatic disease to the cryoablation procedure. For comparison, most women whose tumors aren’t successfully removed surgically—approximately 60 percent of cases—survive seven months to 30 months.

Bang and colleagues also calculated that cryoablation delivers results at a lower cost than alternative treatments. Medical costs in the study registered an average of $26,806 per life year saved compared with the current standard of care costing approximately $100,000 per life year saved.

“[Multisite cryoablation] of metastatic epithelial ovarian cancer is a well-tolerated treatment alternative, especially for patients with anesthesia risks, painful lesions or those seeking local control during chemotherapy,” concluded the authors. “Preliminary calculations of high patient survival and cost-effectiveness suggest that cryoablation could effectively and economically augment the palliative care of metastatic disease.”

Because cryoablation is performed using an extremely cold needle inserted into the skin, it causes less pain and offers a faster recovery than surgery, according to the authors.

The research team has published two papers detailing the findings as they relate to kidney and lung cancers, with a third recently submitted on colon cancer. Bang recognized the long-term effectiveness and financial benefits of the treatment in a statement, saying that with enough evidence and proven data, “eventually, people will start listening.”

Ovarian cancer is diagnosed in 22,000 women each year and is the most damaging cancer to the female reproductive system, according to the National Institutes of Health.