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Outpatient Procedure Shrinks Benign Breast Lumps

Breast cryotherapy is a safe, effective and nearly painless office-based procedure that significantly reduces benign breast lumps without damaging breast structure, according to a study presented today at the 89th Scientific Assembly and Annual Meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA).

Cryotherapy for breast fibroadenomas, or fibrous benign lumps, is an ultrasound-guided procedure that uses exceptionally cold temperatures to freeze and kill abnormal tissue. Interventional radiologists numb the breast tissue around the mass and insert a cryoprobe, which is similar to a large needle, into the middle of the lesion. An ice ball forms at the tip of the probe and continues to grow until the ultrasound confirms that the entire lump has been engulfed, killing the tissue.

There are three major advantages of cryotherapy for breast fibroadenomas. The first benefit is visualization. Ice is easily visualized with both ultrasound and CT, making the procedure safe and effective. Second, cryotherapy is virtually painless when the area around the tumor is numbed with a local anesthetic. The third benefit is the improved cosmetic outcome since cryotherapy preserves the breast's supporting tissue and does not leave significant surgical scars.

The researchers treated 42 fibroadenomas in 27 patients with ultrasound-guided cryotherapy to evaluate outcomes and patient acceptance of cryotherapy for breast fibroadenomas originally planned for surgical removal. On average, the fibroadenomas were reduced in size by 73 percent. No significant complications were noted, and patients were pleased with the cosmetic results.

Affecting 10 percent of American women, most in their late teens and early 20s, fibroadenomas are often considered a benign lesion best left alone. However, approximately 1 million are removed annually because of size, continued growth or for cosmetic reasons. African-American women have twice the incidence of fibroadenomas as Caucasian women.

Created: 1/22/2004  -  Donnica Moore, M.D.

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