UCHealth home to new technology for early-stage breast tumors

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At just 22 years old, Breanna came across a mass in her right breast.

“It was in a place where it was irritating and painful,” Breanna said. 

A year later, a biopsy showed Breanna’s tumor was benign, but the mass still needed to come out. That’s when she was introduced to cryoablation, a non-surgical procedure that freezes the tumor.

With the help of an ultrasound, doctors were able to use a probe and guide it to where the tumor is located in Breanna’s body.

Liquid nitrogen was then sent through the probe, where an ice ball formed around the tumor. Breanna was awake during the entire procedure.

After a year, the mass will be thawed and re-absorbed by her body.

“I went under no pain or anything,” Breanna said. “I was comfortable.”

UCHealth Memorial Hospital’s breast surgery program is the first to offer cryoablation in Colorado, with Breanna being their first patient. The procedure is being looked on to possibly treat early stage breast cancer.

“Cryoablation for other types of tumors has been around for 20 years,” Dr. Laura Pomerenke said. “We have been using it on benign breast tumors for 10 years and there’s clinical trials using it for early breast cancer.”

It’s been three weeks since the procedure, and Breanna said she’s fine, thankful to have gone through this procedure.

“I was happy,” Breanna said, “I didn’t have to be cut open and have someone open me. It’s incredibly less invasive than surgery.” 

UCHealth Memorial is initially offering the procedure to treat fibroadenomas – or benign lesions – before possibly using it to treat early-stage breast cancer.

A recent clinical study showed the treatment to be 100 percent successful in all invasive ductal breast cancer tumors less than 1.0 cm.

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