Freezing away earlier stages of breast cancer? How a 30-minute procedure could help

Denise Dador Image
Tuesday, August 1, 2023
Studies prove freezing as effective in getting rid of breast cancer
Getting rid of cancerous tumors without surgery? Doctors say extreme cold can be effective for early stage breast cancer.

GLENDALE, Calif. (KABC) -- Getting rid of cancerous tumors without surgery? You may have heard of doctors using extreme cold to treat cancer. Now, doctors say it can be effective for early stage breast cancer.

In a short office visit, doctors froze and removed a small cancerous tumor from 65-year-old Ramona Eggenberger's left breast.

"Better than teeth cleaning," said Eggenberger.

It was completely different than when she watched her husband go through surgery and chemo for lung cancer.

"I'm alone. I'm a widow, I said, 'I can't, you know, be out of work and get sick going through treatments,'" she said.

"Some women simply don't want surgery," said Dr. Dennis Holmes with the Sam and Grace Carvajal Comprehensive Breast Center at Adventist Health Glendale. For years, he's been pioneering cryoablation to treat early stage breast cancer. It's done with a needle, ultrasound and a local anesthetic.

"We ablate the tumor which means we kill the tumor," said Holmes. "We kill a rim of tissue around it. And all of that can be completed within a 30 to to 40 minute procedure. The patient can drive in, drive herself home and have a complete treatment of her breast cancer in that one visit."

While some patients may still need chemo and radiation, Eggenberger did not require additional treatment. She posted a video shortly after her procedure six weeks ago.

"Six months from now, if everything has been done, so is my treatment," she recorded right after her treatment.

Holmes said cryoablation is routinely used in other cancers such as cervical and prostate, but the procedure is still being studied in women with early stage breast cancer.

"We'll be leading a national clinical trial that's going to be opening later this year as a way of moving this treatment forward," Holmes said.

For now, insurance doesn't cover cryoablation for breast cancer. Eggenberger paid for hers out of pocket, a cost which runs about $10,000. She hopes someday cryoablation will be covered for all women who are candidates.

"It breaks my heart that it's not out there available to everyone. It is so quick and easy," she said.