Cryoablation Therapy for Breast Cancer (and other cancers) By Dr. John Oertle, Chief Medical Director at Envita Medical Centers
Minimally invasive surgeries like cryoablation therapy may hold the promise of significantly reducing oncology related costs, while improving patient outcomes. In a thought leadership blog published by Medical Device News Magazine, Dr. John Oertle, Chief Medical Director, Envita Medical Centers, said, “It has the potential of reducing months of recovery time to only a few minutes, and the scope of cryoablation expands exponentially especially when utilized in concert with personalized precision medicine.”
Cryoablation, also called cryosurgery, utilizes extreme cold temperatures produced by cooling agents, such as, liquid nitrogen to kill cancer cells and abnormal tissues. This image guided procedure can be performed within 20 to 30 minutes, and patients walk out of their treatment facilities with just a band-aid at the site of needle insertion. Dr. Oertle explained that this quick recovery time, optimistic health outcomes, as well as the positive cosmetic value, make cryoablation a favorable treatment option for not only breast cancer and skin cancer patients, but for other patients with certain types of solid tumors as well.
Typically, cryoablation is used in early-stage breast cancers, but with the advancements in personalized precision oncology the potential of this therapy can be increased substantially. “Cryoablation therapy can be successfully utilized for late-stage breast cancer treatment as well, though it is not the first or only treatment,” said Dr. Oertle. Initially, attempts are made to shrink the tumor size by utilizing personalized medicine and immunotherapies. If the tumor shrinks down to an appropriate size and is at a suitable location, then cryoablation treatments can be utilized as one of the tools even in late-stage breast cancers, thus avoiding the need for maximum therapeutic dose untargeted chemotherapy and radiation.
Depending on factors like tumor size, its location, type of breast cancer, and its genetic targets, cryoablation therapy, when used in combination with personalized medicine, may eliminate the need for invasive surgeries like mastectomies and lumpectomies. However, the personalized precision medicine approach is not typically followed in standard oncology care, which explains why many cancer patients may remain deprived of the true potential of cryoablation.
“Despite the myriad of benefits, cryoablation is still not as widely utilized in standard cancer care facilities because of lack of insurance coverage for it,” said Dr. Oertle. Unfortunately, insurance companies are not incentivized for patient outcomes, rather their business model thrives on a complicated network of billable services and negotiated rates with hospitals and specialty care clinics. Such complicated arrangements are one of the reasons why lumpectomy, which is a high billable service followed by chemotherapy and radiation, are typically recommended for breast cancer care.
To learn more about cryoablation and how it can be utilized as a more powerful arsenal for the treatment of cancer, read this informative thought leadership blog here.
* The 3rd party actuarial response data is based on an analysis 87 out of 129 patients that participated in Envita's Treatment Program in 2020. 42 patients were removed from the cohort due to the patients' inability to start or complete Envita's prescribed treatment for a variety of reasons, including advanced disease state, disease progression or inability to travel.