A new clinical trial involving testing intrapleural cryotherapy on mesothelioma is slated to start by physicians at Rochester, Minnesota’s Mayo Clinic. Cryotherapy has been used before by a thoracic surgeon, and showed that this form of treatment has potential to become a new standard of treatment for mesothelioma patients.
WCAX reports that there aren’t currently a lot of treatment options for mesothelioma, but Mayo Clinic doctors are hoping that cryotherapy, which involves freezing small cancer tumors via controlled nitrogen vapors, will show promising results. One mesothelioma patient, 68-year-old Mary Kuntz, has already had cryotherapy after support and inspiration from her family. Kuntz is the first patient to try cryotherapy for mesothelioma at the Mayo Clinic.
According to Mayo Clinic surgeon Dr. Shandra Blackmon, Kuntz’s tumors were first frozen and within two weeks, she returned to the clinic to have them surgically removed. Blackmon indicated that the goal was to see how the patient’s body reacts to the treatment while suppressing the immune system.
“This is the early explorative stage where were just looking at what is this doing to the body, how is it stimulating the immune response.”
The Mayo Clinic is following a slightly different version of cryotherapy that’s been performed by Dr. Robert Cameron at the Pacific Meso Center in Los Angeles. Dr. Cameron’s previous cryotherapy treatments have shown much success.
Mayo Clinic’s Cryotherapy Clinical Trial
The Mayo Clinic’s cryotherapy clinical trial will have around 15 people enrolled, all of whom have mesothelioma. During the trial, patients will go through a staging pleuroscopy two weeks prior to undergoing surgery. Around two or three applications of cryogenic spray will be applied to the cancerous tumors, each in 30 second increments.
Physicians are hoping that the cryogenic spraying will help reduce the severe side effects of the surgery, lead to a faster recovery, and show less cancer tumor recurrence.
More About Cryotherapy
According to the National Cancer Institute (NIH), cryotherapy is used to treat all kinds of cancer. In addition to mesothelioma, cryotherapy can also help:
- Early stage skin cancer
- Childhood eye cancer (retinoblastoma)
- Precancerous cervix issues (cervical intraepithelial neoplasia)
- Early stage prostate cancer that’s located only in the prostate gland
- Liver cancer that has not yet spread
- Colon or rectum cancer
Cryotherapy may cause side effects, depending on the area in which it’s performed. Typical side effects may include:
- Loss of nerve sensation (rare)
- Fractures due to destroyed tissue
Additionally, the long-term effectiveness of cryotherapy is still unknown, which sometimes poses problems with insurance companies covering the procedure. Furthermore, physicians currently can only treat tumors they can see, and may miss microscopic spreading of cancer.
Currently, there are only a limited number of physicians in the U.S. who are experienced in cryotherapy. As science progresses, however, more options may become available.
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