Freezing Technique is an Effective Alternative to Lumpectomy for Early Stage Breast Cancer, Study Finds

Led by researchers from NewYork-Presbyterian and Weill Cornell Medicine, the new study published in the Annals of Surgical Oncology finds that cryoablation is a viable treatment for some breast cancers

Sep 28, 2016

New York

Dr. Rache M. Simmons in front of NYP Weill Cornell Medical Center

A deep-freezing technique known as cryoablation is a viable alternative to traditional surgery in many early-stage breast cancers, NewYork-Presbyterian and Weill Cornell Medicine researchers find in a new clinical study. The results are published in the Annals of Surgical Oncology.

“Minimally invasive techniques are becoming increasingly popular in cancer care, and cryoablation represents a valid option for early stage breast cancer treatment,” said Dr. Rache Simmons, chief of breast surgery at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center and the Anne K. and Edwin C. Weiskopf Professor of Surgical Oncology at Weill Cornell Medicine. “The results from this trial are extremely promising, and we look forward to exploring the technique for a greater number of patients.”

In cryoablation, doctors use ultrasound imaging to insert a thin, needle-like device into the patient’s tumor. Once inside, the device emits liquid nitrogen, which freezes and destroys the cancerous tissue. The technique can be performed in an outpatient setting under local anesthesia, and has been used for many years to treat cancers of the liver, lung and kidney, as well as noncancerous breast tumors, known as fibroadenomas. Physicians have only recently begun using it for early-stage breast cancer, which is traditionally treated by a combination of radiation and surgery.

The phase II, non-randomized trial examined 86 patients with 87 cancers at 19 centers across the country. The technique successfully treated 92 percent of the targeted cancers, and 100 percent less than one centimeter. The primary tumor was removed from the patients within 28 days of the cryoablation.

The trial marks the first time cryoablation has been studied for the treatment of early-stage breast cancer in a multicenter study.

“Further study is needed, but cryoablation appears to represent a unique and patient-friendly option for treatment of some breast cancers,” Dr. Simmons said. “We’re excited to see what the future holds for this technique.”


NewYork-Presbyterian is one of the nation’s most comprehensive healthcare delivery networks, focused on providing innovative and compassionate care to patients in the New York metropolitan area and throughout the globe. In collaboration with two renowned medical school partners, Weill Cornell Medicine and Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons, NewYork-Presbyterian is consistently recognized as a leader in medical education, groundbreaking research and clinical innovation.

NewYork-Presbyterian has four major divisions: NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital is ranked #1 in the New York metropolitan area by U.S. News and World Report and repeatedly named to the magazine’s Honor Roll of best hospitals in the nation; NewYork-Presbyterian Regional Hospital Network is comprised of leading hospitals in and around New York and delivers high-quality care to patients throughout the region; NewYork-Presbyterian Physician Services connects medical experts with patients in their communities; and NewYork-Presbyterian Community and Population Health features the hospital’s ambulatory care network sites and operations, community care initiatives and healthcare quality programs, including NewYork Quality Care, established by NewYork-Presbyterian, Weill Cornell and Columbia.

NewYork-Presbyterian is one of the largest healthcare providers in the U.S. Each year, nearly 29,000 NewYork-Presbyterian professionals deliver exceptional care to more than 2 million patients.

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Weill Cornell Medicine

Weill Cornell Medicine is committed to excellence in patient care, scientific discovery and the education of future physicians in New York City and around the world. The doctors and scientists of Weill Cornell Medicine—faculty from Weill Cornell Medical College, Weill Cornell Graduate School of Medical Sciences, and Weill Cornell Physician Organization—are engaged in world-class clinical care and cutting-edge research that connect patients to the latest treatment innovations and prevention strategies. Located in the heart of the Upper East Side’s scientific corridor, Weill Cornell Medicine’s powerful network of collaborators extends to its parent university Cornell University; to Qatar, where an international campus offers a U.S. medical degree; and to programs in Tanzania, Haiti, Brazil, Austria and Turkey. Weill Cornell Medicine faculty provide comprehensive patient care at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center, NewYork-Presbyterian/Lower Manhattan Hospital and NewYork-Presbyterian/Queens. Weill Cornell Medicine is also affiliated with Houston Methodist. For more information, visit