Cryoablation for Benign Breast Tumor Treatment
Fibroadenomas are benign breast tumors. They most frequently occur in women during their reproductive years. Although breast fibroadenomas are noncancerous, they can cause pain and affect the look, shape and feel of breasts. They usually do not affect breast cancer risk.
Conventional fibroadenoma treatment includes close monitoring for changes or growth, or surgical excision to remove breast fibroadenomas. However, a novel, FDA approved treatment called cryoablation offers many women an alternative option.
Conventional fibroadenoma treatment
Fibroadenomas, which are solid lumps that may feel like a marble within your breast, are usually detected through physical exam. Following detection, ultrasound or mammography will be recommended depending on your age to investigate the lump and additional imaging may be necessary to diagnose fibroadenoma.
Some women may require a biopsy to remove tissue for sampling. After a breast fibroadenoma diagnosis is confirmed, most women return every 6 to 12 months for imaging with ultrasound or mammography to monitor the fibroadenoma.
Some women opt to have surgery to remove the breast fibroadenoma completely, which requires surgical incision and can cause scarring.
Cryoablation to treat fibroadenomas
Cryoablation is a less invasive procedure than surgery, which uses liquid nitrogen chilled to extreme temperatures. This technique uses an ultrasound-guided, needle-like probe (similar technology as the probe used for the biopsy) to destroy the breast fibroadenoma by freezing the benign breast tumor. This helps to preserve nearby healthy tissue.
The exterior of the probe used during the procedure is warm to the touch and local anesthesia is used to reduce any potential discomfort. The cryoablation procedure generally takes 15 minutes or less and is an in-office procedure. A breast lump remains for a brief time while healthy cells regrow in place of the benign breast tumor.
- Cryoablation can be performed at a lower cost and in less time than surgery.
- Approved in 2010 by the FDA, the procedure is widely regarded as safe and effective as a fibroadenoma treatment.
- The American Society of Breast Surgeons recognized cryoablation as a “safe, efficacious and durable” alternative to surgery in a 2009 statement on breast fibroadenoma management.
Cryoablation is considered appropriate for women with a benign breast tumor that is:
- Diagnosed by biopsy.
- Visible on ultrasound.
- Less than 4 centimeters in diameter.
Many women may choose to have fibroadenomas removed due to symptoms, such as deformity or pain, or for other personal reasons. While surgery may be required for some larger fibroadenomas, cryoablation now offers these women an alternative fibroadenoma treatment.
Benign Breast Tumor Treatment Consultation
This procedure can be performed quickly in the surgeon’s office, minimizes risk of altering cosmetic appearance, reduce costs and time associated with surgery and minimal recovery time. That means the patient can be back to work or normal activities more quickly.