Swedish breast-cancer treatment shows promise


The new treatment was pioneered in Sweden. It takes a less-invasive approach to treating breast cancer before it has a chance to spread. One of the biggest benefits is that patients can get treated in a little over an hour.

For 17 years, Gunilla Pilo enjoyed a challenging career planning dinners for the Nobel Prize held at Stockholm's City Hall each year in Sweden.

But after retiring last year, she faced a bigger challenge: Doctors found a cancerous tumor in her breast.

She enrolled in a research study on a new technique to kill breast tumors, known as Preferential Radio Frequency Ablation or PRFA. PRFA is the brainchild of Hans Wiksell, professor of medical technology, Karolinska Institute.

"As soon as you have done it, you can say to the patient that now the tumor cannot spread anymore," said Wiksell.

The goal is to catch it at an early stage.

"Those women, if we can get them to go through minimal invasive therapy instead of surgery, it will help them a lot," said Karin Leifland, mammography physician, head of mammography, Capio St. Goran Hospital in Stockholm.

Doctors place a thin electrode guided by ultrasound into the tumor. The tumor is then heated to 167 degrees Fahrenheit, killing it and leaving the surrounding tissue unharmed.

"The DNA and other things inside dies, so it could not live anymore, it could not divide anymore," said Wiksell.

The non-invasive surgery can be done in an hour, with no scars and no recovery time.

"You could do it in your lunchtime and then go back and work afterwards," said Gunilla Pilo. "You don't really feel anything."

Because of PRFA, Pilo is now cancer-free and enjoying the beauty around her.

Researchers at Sweden's Karolinska University are continuing their study of PRFA with elderly women who, because of their age, are often not fit for surgery.

So far the PRFA technique has worked 100 percent of the time for this population.

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