When treating cancer, the best alternative treatments are those that are minimally invasive. The less a person’s insides are exposed, the better. But sometimes it’s a good strategy to get rid of large cancer masses with surgery or radiation, then kill off the millions of remaining, invisible cancer cells with alternatives.
Now there’s another way to get rid of large cancers besides surgery and radiation. Actually, it’s been around for a while, but it’s only slowly winning acceptance. It needs only local anesthetic, can be performed as an outpatient procedure, and requires less downtime than more traditional cancer treatment methods.
Read on to discover this technique and how it’s changing the face of cancer treatment.
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This technique is called cryoablation. The word itself breaks down as “ablation,” which means to destroy or remove, and the prefix “cryo,” which refers to freezing.
When doctors perform cryoablation, they use ultrasound imaging to help them guide a thin, needle-like device into the patient’s tumor. Once inside, it injects liquid nitrogen into the tumor, which destroys the cancerous cells.
The process is much less invasive than traditional surgery and, as I mentioned, is usually done as an outpatient procedure with local anesthesia only.
Avoid these risks of conventional surgery
This is especially good for older patients, as the risk of cognitive impairment after general anesthesia increases with age (click here for more information about the link between anesthesia and dementia).
Older adults and people with serious medical conditions may also be at an increased risk of developing postoperative pneumonia, strokes or heart attacks after undergoing general anesthesia.1 Not to mention the frequent side effects of general anesthesia such as nausea, vomiting and shivering.
Because the risk of developing cancer increases with age, it’s important to find nonsurgical methods of treating this disease in seniors. The rest of this article is mostly going to discuss cryoablation for breast cancer. If you’d like to know how this treatment applies to prostate cancer, take a look at Issue #110.
Cryoablation can treat many kinds of breast cancer
Cryoablation has been used for years in treating early stage cancers of the liver, lung and kidney. It’s also been used in treating non-cancerous fibroids in the breast and uterus.
A study published by the British Institute of Radiology notes that breast cancer is a major source of morbidity and mortality in the elderly, and the number of patients is expected to increase by 30% in future decades.
Taking this fact into consideration, alongside the risks of general anesthesia in older patients, the researchers performed a small study to see if cryoablation could be an adequate substitution for surgery.
Four patients aged 79 to 82 who were recommended for surgery underwent ultrasound-guided cryoablation instead. After a follow-up period of 29 months, all patients were still alive and without any other signs of recurrence or metastases.
The study concluded that cryoablation “is safe and feasible in the management of breast cancer in elderly patients.2
Breast cancer successfully treated
Ductal breast cancer starts in the milk ducts and, according to breastcancer.org, about four out of five breast cancers are of this type, making it the most common kind of breast cancer. Invasive ductal breast cancer (IBC) means the cancer has spread to the surrounding tissue. Over time it can spread to the lymph nodes and other areas of the body.3
An article published in 2016 in the Annals of Surgical Oncology finds that cryoablation may be a viable option for treating ductal breast cancers in the early stage.
In the study, 99 breast cancer patients with invasive ductal breast cancer (IBC) of 2 centimeters or greater and/or patients with 25% or greater ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) were treated with cryoablation in 19 different facilities.
The researchers used MRI to evaluate any residual IBC or DCIS after treatment and found that cryoablation had a 75.9% success rate in destroying cancer cells in the targeted areas.4
In short, it looks like cryoablation is a reasonable alternative to surgery for this type of cancer – at the very least.
Triple-negative breast cancer
Only about 15-20% of diagnosed breast cancers are what’s called “triple negative breast cancer” (TNBC).
All breast tumors are tested for certain receptors, or proteins: estrogen receptors, progesterone receptors and HER2/neu receptors.
When a tumor has few to no receptors it’s “negative.” When it has few to none of any of these receptors, it’s triple negative.
There are fewer treatment options for “negative” tumors than there are for “positive” tumors because most treatment is designed around targeting these receptors. Worse yet,TNBC also tends to be more aggressive, growing faster than other kinds of breast cancer. The prognosis is generally poor.5
This is partly attributed to the fact that TNBC produces a certain cytokine (cell signaling protein) called interleukin-6 that inhibits T-cell response (an immune system response) to the cancer cells. Because of this the immune system becomes neutralized in the battle against cancer.
However, new cryoablation research shows promise in treating triple-negative breast cancer.
A study published in 2015 in the journal Oncoimmunology tested the use of cryoablation combined with Meriva, a patented formulation of curcumin and soy lecithin that allows for greater bioavailability, on mice with metastatic breast cancer.
Researchers performed cryoablation on the tumor and then followed up with an injection of Meriva into the tumor.
The researchers discovered this combination activated certain T-cells to multiple tumor-associated antigens (foreign bodies that prompt the immune system to respond). This resulted in a nearly complete reduction of primary tumors and lung metastases.
According to the study, “the survival rate in the group of cryoablation plus Meriva was significantly improved compared to all control groups” (Meriva alone, cryoablation alone or groups receiving saline control).6
For example, 58 days after treatment, mice receiving only cryoablation developed metastases in the lungs, while those that received cryoablation plus Meriva were free of metastases.
Cryoablation for bone cancer
In addition to treating early-stage breast cancer tumors, cryoablation has shown success in easing the pain of patients suffering from soft tissue cancer and bone metastases.
One study, begun in 2011 and published in 2016, analyzed the use of CT-guided cryoablation for malignant bone and soft tissue tumors.
There were nine patients on whom a total of eleven CT-guided cryoablation procedures were performed. Patients in the study had a variety of cancers ranging from renal cell carcinoma to sarcomas to thyroid carcinoma. They suffered from either recurrent tumors or metastases.
All patients, for one reason or another, were unable to choose surgery, chemotherapy or radiotherapy as treatment options.
They underwent two to three rounds of cryoablation, and at the end of the 24-month follow-up period, four patients out of the nine showed no evidence of disease, two were alive with disease and three had died of disease.7
These are good results for metastatic cancers treated with conventional methods.
Cryoablation for palliative care in bone cancer
When cancer spreads to the bones it can be very painful. The traditional routes of easing this pain have been chemotherapy, powerful pain-killers, and localized radiation therapy. Many patients fail to find relief from these treatments.
A 2016 study published in Current Orthopedic Practice found that minimally invasive procedures like cryoablation are an effective choice for palliative care in patients with bone pain caused by metastases.
The study found that cryoablation relieved pain in the patients and they were able to get by with fewer narcotic pain-killers.8
While the researchers are the first to admit that more studies must be done to determine how far cryoablation can be used in cancer treatment, the initial studies have been promising.
From reducing the number of surgeries to decreasing narcotic dependence, cryoablation may not be a cure-all, but it’s earning a place as a viable alternative treatment.
Preventing cancer is a better idea than trying to cure it. If you’re fortunate enough that this is still an option, our last article had important news about a possible carcinogen, just identified. See it below if you missed the last issue. . .
Another Strike Against Carbs:
When Burnt They Might Lead to Cancer
There’s yet another reason to steer clear of carbs in your diet. But this time, the issue isn’t about fat levels and calories. Instead, it has everything to do with the way your food looks.
That’s because recent research has uncovered a link between carcinogens and foods as simple (and common) as burnt toast. Keep reading for more on the story…
If you are sensitive, skip this [pic]
If you are sensitive, this isn’t for you.
And I get it. World War II Nazi “medical experiments” aren’t something usually discussed in polite company.
What if we found that one of Hitler’s scientists uncovered a CURE for the most deadly disease of our time?
And what if it happened in 1944 — and was buried when Germany collapsed after the war?
Or, even worse, was it actually covered up?
Impossible? Just take a look at this image now…
The danger of a new (yet old) food chemical
You may have heard or read that grilled meats are unhealthy because the high heat causes them to form carcinogens. The problem resides in the charred, black flesh that grilling fans love.
Today’s article explores a similar problem — burnt carbs, or burnt starchy foods. According to the U.K.’s Food Standards Agency (FSA), people need to stop consuming singed toast, charred potatoes, and all forms of burnt root vegetables and bread.
Additional foods to avoid when burnt, according to the FSA, include coffee, crackers, and dried fruits—but none of those pose the same level of threat as burnt starches.
The potential risk lies in the chemical acrylamide, which readily forms in plant-based, starchy foods when they’re cooked at high temperatures through baking or frying. When the sugars and amino acids normally found in these foods bind together in the presence of heat, acrylamide forms.
The chemical acrylamide was only discovered in 2002, so there’s not much research on it. Health officials know at this point that acrylamide has been linked to higher cancer rates in animals, because of the damage the chemical causes to DNA.
Yet, it’s a common chemical. Acrylamide has been part of the human diet ever since people started cooking their food. In fact, it’s present in at least 40 percent of the daily calories consumed by the average American. The compound can form in foods that are baked, grilled, roasted, toasted, or fried.
You’ve probably already ingested this chemical
The scare over acrylamide and its link to cancer began in southwestern Sweden in October of 1997. Farmers were suddenly losing cows to death or paralysis, and several dead fish were spotted in a local river. Simultaneously, workers at a nearby construction site began having symptoms of nausea and prickly feelings in their fingers.
The problems were traced to a nearby major construction project tasked with drilling a tunnel through a ridge to make space for a railway. After a series of leaks in the tunnel, the construction company shot 1,400 tons of Rhoca-Gil, a sealant, into the tunnel walls. The sealant went on to leak high levels of acrylamide into the surrounding ground and surface water.
The reactions experienced by humans and animals in the area led scientists at Stockholm University to launch tests on the construction workers, as well as on a control group. The researchers found significant levels of acrylamide in the blood of both. From there, they identified processed food as a source for the compound, with starchy foods cooked at high temperatures carrying the highest concentrations.
Keep in mind that, like many studies on the interplay between carcinogens and toxins and how they affect health, this research was done in a lab with animal studies. The unlucky animals who developed cancer as a result of acrylamide were pumped up with massive doses of the carcinogen, far beyond what any human is likely to consume.
According to one source, humans would need to eat their body weight in burnt French fries every day for two years to achieve the high levels of acrylamide the mice in the study were getting. Meaning the risk isn’t huge.
Because we know the risk is small, is it worth worrying about? The answer is yes, according to Professor Margareta Törnqvist, an environmental chemist at Stockholm University. She points out that some chemicals have a minimum threshold concentration. Below this concentration, they’re pretty harmless.
Yet, when it comes to chemicals that damage your DNA, there’s no minimum threshold. This means it’s impossible to know at what minimal level your DNA could be affected. But that’s exactly why cancer is so menacing. Sometimes – especially in people who aren’t very healthy to begin with — all it takes is one damaged string of DNA to morph into a pile of life-threatening cancer cells.
New meaning given to the phrase, “light cooking”
The best step to take to protect yourself is to reduce the acrylamide in your diet. Quit consuming burnt carbs and you’re basically there.
That doesn’t mean you have to quit eating starchy foods entirely. But when possible, try steaming or boiling your starches—a step that will at least work for potatoes and root vegetables.
Cooking anything at extremely high temperature – whether meats, oils or starches – appears to be a bad idea.
You could follow the lead of the FSA in Britain and “Go for the Gold” – in other words, cook your food till it’s golden yellow or lighter, then stop. Also, don’t make the mistake of storing your potatoes in the refrigerator, as the cold temperature could increase the amount of acrylamide that forms when the potatoes are cooked.
As I suggested, the news about starches is similar to reports in some of my past articles on the dangers of charbroiling any food, and particularly foods you cook on the barbecue. I recommend following the general rule of thumb that if you’ve turned your food black or brown from cooking, or if it’s smoking, it’s no longer healthy.