CentraState is proud to announce that Kenneth Tomkovich, MD, a board-certified interventional radiologist on staff at CentraState, radiologist with Princeton Radiology, and an internationally recognized expert in breast cancer diagnosis and interventional treatment procedures, presented preliminary results of a breast cancer cryoablation clinical trial with fellow principal investigators at the Radiologic Society of North America (RSNA) conference in Chicago in November.
The Ice3 Trial focused on the cryoablation, or freezing, of low-risk, small breast cancers in women ages 60 and older, followed by a consultation with a medical oncologist and radiation oncologist to discuss additional treatments in accordance with the National Comprehensive Cancer Network guidelines. Now closed to patients, the trial was performed at 20 centers throughout the country.
Dr. Tomkovich, for more than 20 years, has been working hard to change the standard of care for breast cancer treatment. It’s his belief that lumpectomy or mastectomy surgery may not always be necessary and women can be offered other effective treatment options, especially when their cancer is small and has not spread beyond the breast.
“For this study, our patient population is comprised of small, less than 1.5 cm, low-grade breast cancers. This population really encompasses the majority of patients that we are seeing today and the majority of the breast cancers that we are diagnosing because the imaging is so much better and we are finding smaller and smaller cancers,” states Dr. Tomkovich.
Cyroablation, simply put, potentially freezes a tumor to death and the dead tissue is removed by the body’s immune system. Cryoablation is a minimally invasive procedure that involves only a tiny incision and local anesthesia. Under high-precision ultrasound image guidance, a probe is directed to the tumor and the tumor is frozen. The patient is awake during the procedure, which takes less than 30 minutes.
“Since the beginning of the trial in 2014, 174 women have been treated at 20 sites throughout the US, with 100% procedural success and no serious procedural-related adverse events,” notes Dr. Tomkovich. “Among the 107 patients followed for at least 12 months, there have been only two recurrences, which is a 98% success rate, which is really good as or better than surgery.”
Cryoablation has long been used to treat other types of soft tissue cancer, such as kidney cancer. It is also used for the treatment of benign breast lesions called fibroadenomas. While cryoablation directly destroys cancer cells, there is some evidence that rapid freezing may also trigger the immune system to stop the spread of cancer. The theory is that once the immune system is turned on by the dead (cyroablated) cancer cells, it learns to attack those types of cancer cells — similar to the way a vaccine “teaches” the body to destroy certain viruses. With cyroablation, patients may still require follow-up therapy such as radiation or chemotherapy as part of the normal standard of care.
Final results from the Ice 3 trial will be published when five-year follow-up data are available for all patients in the trial.
Dr. Tomkovich goes on to say “If the positive preliminary findings are maintained as the patients enrolled in the study continue to be monitored, that will serve as a strong indication of the promise of cryotherapy as an alternative treatment for a specific group of breast cancer patients. My hope is if we can help more patients avoid surgery, while receiving equally effective treatments, we can improve quality of life for many patients battling breast cancer.”
Dr. Tomkovich is medical director of Breast Imaging and Interventional Radiology at CentraState Medical Center in Freehold, N.J., and a physician at Princeton Radiology. He can be reached by calling 866-CENTRA7.