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December 10, 2012 12:44 pm

Israeli Scientists Freeze Tumors in New Breast Cancer Treatment

avatar by Zach Pontz

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Breast cancer awareness ribbon. Photo: Wikipedia.

Israeli scientists have developed a new technique to treat breast cancer and it is being used in trials already. The method employs a supercooled needle tip to repeatedly freeze then defrost tumors. This damages and ultimately kills the harmful tissue.

The needle is cooled to -274F (-170C) by pumping liquid nitrogen through a network of tiny tubes. The technique does not require general anesthetic and can be completed in about 15 minutes. Scientists behind the procedure, called cryoablation, say it is possible to treat tumors up to the size of a golf ball and that it could provide an alternative to surgery.

“The cells in the human body are made mainly of water, which means they freeze,” Hezi Himmelfarb, the chief executive of the Israel-based IceCure Medical told the UK’s Telegraph.

“There have been attempts before to use heat to destroy cancer cells like this but that can be extremely painful because our bodies are very sensitive to heat.

“Cold has an anaesthetising effect, so the patients feel very little pain during or after the procedure.

“We have developed the system so it can be carried out in a normal doctors’ surgery as it is minimally invasive and relatively quick.”

The device has already been approved for use in the United States and IceCure is hoping for European approval within the year.

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