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Your Healthy Family: Colorado Breast Cryoablation first patient describes procedure

Posted at 11:09 AM, Feb 11, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-12 10:09:51-05

COLORADO SPRINGS – UCHealth Memorial Hospital’s Breast Surgery Program is now the first in Colorado to use a new technology that can freeze a lesion in the breast, killing the tumor cells and helping patients avoid surgery.

On Jan. 24, a patient named Breanna was the first in Colorado to have the procedure.  Breanna says it was during a self-exam when she noticed a mass.

Breanna’s first step was to see her primary care doctor, who confirmed the mass should be looked at further.  Breanna was referred to Dr. Laura Pomerenke, a breast surgeon with UCHealth Memorial. While the results of her biopsy were good – the lesion was benign – it was still an issue for Breanna because the location of the fibroadenoma caused pain when wearing a bra.

Breanna explained, “The elastic or wire, where that rests, is exactly where my fibroadenoma was.  So the wire would press against it, and it would press against the rib cage. It would get uncomfortable and painful and irritated.  Even though it was benign and it wasn’t going to cause me harm, it was uncomfortable and I wanted it to be taken care of.”

Dr. Pomerenke told Breanna she was a perfect candidate for the new procedure called cryoablation, and she would be the first patient to have it done in Colorado.

“It was a little intimidating, but when she explained it, it was no-brainer.” says Breanna.

Here is how Cryoablation works.  Using a probe about the size of a biopsy needle and under local anesthetic, the probe is placed through the mass in the breast.  Once in place, liquid nitrogen is used to form a ball of ice around the mass, freezing and essentially killing the mass, which is then reabsorbed by the body over six to nine months.

Breanna says, “The procedure itself was incredibly less invasive than what a standard surgery would have been.  I have a minor scar, the size of the tip of a pinkie nail, where the needle had to push through. There was some pressure and some minor discomfort, but other than that I have no scarring, stretching, or sign of a procedure.”

Dr. Pomerenke hopes in the future to use the procedure to treat cancerous tumors.  She explains there is a medical trial underway called the Frost Trial. “This (breast cryoablation procedure) is not widely available.  The centers that have done a lot of these (procedures) are participating in that trial and unfortunately, with clinical trials, you have to watch the participants several years. I would expect we’re not going to get results on that trial for a good five years or so.”

If you have any questions, you can follow up with the folks at the UCHealth Memorial Breast Surgery Program.

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