Freezing Breast Fibroadenomas with Cryoablation

A Minimally Invasive Way To Remove A Fibroadenoma

Visica Cryoablation of Fibroadenoma Part 2
Visica Cryoablation of Fibroadenoma Step 2. Art © Sanarus Technologies, LLC

A fibroadenoma is a common benign breast lump that can be removed surgically. But a less invasive way to remove it is through a procedure called cryoablation, or freezing of the fibroadenoma.

Let's learn more about what cryoablation is and whether or not you are a candidate for it. 

What is a Fibroadenoma?

A fibroadenoma is a benign breast tumor — meaning it's not breast cancer. To get a clear diagnosis of fibroadenoma and to rule out a malignant lump, a breast biopsy must be done.

 

Many doctors recommend that a fibroadenoma be removed, especially if it gets larger or changes the shape of the breast, according to the American Cancer Society.

Removal can be done through surgical excision, but one less invasive and alternative means, approved by the FDA, is through cryoablation, or freezing of the fibroadenoma. 

What is Cryoablation?

During cryoablation, your doctor will first inject a local anesthetic into your breast. Then an ultrasound is used to direct a cryoprobe — a hollow needle — over the center of  the fibroadenoma. The tissue of the fibroadenoma is then freezed.

Having a cryoablation treatment won't slow you down much at all. This procedure can be done right in your doctor's office. From start to finish, the whole process will take just about  15 to 30 minutes. You won't have a big surgical dressing, and you won't be woozy from anesthetic. 

Is Cryoablation Safe?

Studies that have followed women for up to 4 years have shown that cryoablation of fibroadenomas is safe, effective, and well tolerated by patients.

For women who prefer removal of the lesion, this procedure offers minimal cost, time off from work, and cosmetic impact.

Who Can Get Cryoablation?

According to the American Society of Breast Surgeons, a person should meet the following criteria to be considered a candidate for cryoablation of a fibroadenoma:

  • the fibroadenoma must be visible by ultrasound
  • the diagnosis of fibroadenoma should be confirmed with a tissue sample — obtained through a breast biopsy
  • the fibroadenoma should be less than 4cm in diameter

All patients who undergo cryoablation of a fibroadenoma should have followup with their breast surgeon. 

Benefits of Cryoablation

Cryoablation removes no tissue, so the shape of your breast is not distorted. The minimal scar will soon heal and fade. And because the insertion cut is so small, your risk of infection is lower than for a standard surgical procedure.

There's no hospital visit, which keeps your cost lower. Recovery is fast — in fact, you can return to normal activities immediately and participate in sports 3 or 4 days later. You will have some bruising, and may need to take Tylenol (acetaminophen) for any discomfort you have during recovery.

What Should I Do?

If you need a fibroadenoma removed, discuss with your doctor which procedure is best for you.  

Sources:

American Cancer Society. (2015). Fibroadenomas. Retrieved October 21st 2015. 

American Society of Breast Surgeons.(2008) Management of Fibroadenomas of the Breast.  Retrieved October 21st 2015.

Kaufman CS et al. Office Based Cryoablation of Breast Fibroadenomas with Long-Term Follow-up. Breast J. 2005 Sep-Oct;11(5):344-50.

National Cancer Institute. (2003). Cryosurgery in Cancer Treatment: Questions and Answers. 

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