Laser: A Breast Cancer Treatment Alternative?

Laser: A Breast Cancer Treatment Alternative?

By Kathleen Doheny

HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, Dec. 11, 2015 (HealthDay News) — Using a laser to heat and destroy tumors — called laser ablation — may be an effective way to treat small breast cancers, potentially saving some women from a lumpectomy, new research suggests.

The laser ablation technique used in this study is called Novilase Breast Therapy. It involves placing small probes in the center of the cancer and then using heat from the laser to destroy the tumors.

“It works,” said Dr. Barbara Schwartzberg, a breast cancer surgeon at the Sarah Cannon Research Institute at Rose Medical Center in Denver. Schwartzberg is also the chief medical officer for Novian Health, the company behind Novilase Breast Therapy, and the sponsor of the study.

Schwartzberg predicts, if her research continues to bear out, that the new technique could replace lumpectomy for some women and be more cosmetically appealing.

Study findings on the laser technique were to be presented Thursday at the 2015 San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium. Findings presented at meetings are generally viewed as preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

The researchers behind the new study evaluated 60 women with early stage, small breast cancers that measured up to 2 centimeters in diameter, or about three-quarters of an inch. The women were treated at various sites in the United States and the United Kingdom.

After laser ablation treatment, the tissue that was heated slowly shrinks and forms a scar, according to the Society for Interventional Radiology. The women in the study also had radiation therapy.

Four weeks after the ablation treatment, the treated tissue was removed through surgery. The researchers then examined this tissue to look for remaining cancer cells. The women also had MRIs.

The researchers found that 91 percent of the patients had complete destruction of the cancer when the laser procedure was performed according to technical guidelines. Overall, there was an 84 percent complete tumor destruction rate with the laser treatment, the study found.

The researchers also found that the MRI findings were similar to the laboratory examination of the cancer cells (pathology) findings. That suggests that in the future MRI alone could be used to track success of the laser treatment, Schwartzberg said.

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