Rapid Freezing Ups Immunity in Breast Cancer Mouse Model

Cryoablation already used to treat prostate, kidney, and other metastatic cancers

TUESDAY, March 9 (HealthDay News) -- Rapid freezing of breast cancers kills the tumor and generates a tumor-specific immune response that reduces metastases and improves survival compared with surgery in mice, according to a study published online Dec. 22 ahead of the print edition of the Annals of Surgical Oncology.

To examine the effect of freeze rate on the immune response to tumor cryoablation, Michael S. Sabel, M.D., and colleagues from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor treated tumors in a mouse model of metastatic breast cancer with cryoablation at a high rate of freeze (about 30 seconds to freeze the tumor), a low rate of freeze (several minutes to freeze the tumor), or, as a control, by surgical excision.

Compared with surgery, the researchers found that a high freeze rate was associated with significantly more tumor-specific T cells in the tumor-draining lymph nodes, fewer pulmonary metastases, and improved survival. In contrast, a low freeze rate was associated with more regulatory T cells, more pulmonary metastases, and reduced survival. The authors are now participating in a national clinical trial studying the effect of rapid cryoablation on the immune response in patients with breast cancer.

"Cryoablation of breast cancer shows strong potential as a treatment for breast cancer as it may not only treat the primary tumor in a cosmetically appealing manner, but may stimulate an immune response capable of eradicating distant micrometastatic disease and reducing local and distant recurrence," Sabel and colleagues conclude.

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