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An Icy Fix for Cancer Pain

Freezing Tumors Shows Promise as Cancer Pain Reliever of Last Resort

Easing Patients' Pain continued...

The fourth patient was a 49-year-old man with colon cancer that had spread. A week after cryoablation, he said he could tolerate his pain better. However, he later needed more pain medicine and his tumor grew, leading to emergency surgery eight months after cryoablation.

Three of the four patients have since died, says the news release. That's not unexpected since all were considered terminally ill. Cryoablation wasn't designed to restore their health but to reduce their physical suffering. The one-time treatment gave them pain relief until death, says Dupuy in the news release.

Better Than Radiofrequency Ablation

Cryoablation has a couple of advantages over another method, called radiofrequency ablation, says the study.

While cryoablation uses cold, radiofrequency ablation employs warmth. It heats a small area with electrical current from a radio wave, reducing pain signals from that spot.

Cryoablation is less painful for patients and easier for doctors to use with CT imaging, write the researchers. CT images provide a real-time look at the treatment area. "We can watch the ice ball form on CT as it is being done to ensure the appropriate area is being treated," says Dupuy in the news release.

Cryoablation was well-tolerated but needs testing on more people with longer follow-up, write the researchers, who are starting a new study of the procedure. Meanwhile, their first report appears in the March issue of the American Journal of Roentgenology.

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