FROST Trial of Innovative Breast Cancer Treatment

An animation of how the FROST technique works.

Watch How the FROST Technique Works

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Patients and referring physicians who wish to learn more about the FROST clinical trial of cryoablation therapy to treat primary, early-stage invasive breast cancer are invited to contact Liz Morrell.

Freezing Instead of Resection of Small Breast Tumors (FROST) is a clinical trial examining the use of cryoablation therapy as an alternative to surgery (lumpectomy) to treat primary, early-stage invasive breast cancer.

A minimally invasive procedure similar to a needle biopsy of the breast, cryoablation uses extreme cold to destroy diseased tissue by freezing. With only local anesthesia, and using ultrasound guidance, the physician uses a needle that contains liquid nitrogen  to freeze the tumor. Only a tiny incision, small enough to be covered by a Band-Aid, is needed.

Cryoablation creates a ball of ice that encases the tumor and a small amount of normal breast tissue. A cycle of freezing and thawing is used during the treatment, which lasts 30 minutes or so. When the tissue dies, the immune system’s white blood cells clear away the residue. Over time, healthy tissue fills in the treated area.

Rhode Island Hospital is one of about 15 sites in the nation participating in the FROST clinical trial of the effectiveness of cryoablation in treating small, early-stage breast tumors. Radiologist Robert Ward, MD, lead investigator for the FROST clinical trial, is the only physician in Rhode Island who performs this minimally invasive procedure to treat women’s breast cancer.

The clinical trial, which began in summer 2017, is expected to span 10 years. It is sponsored by Sanarus Technologies, maker of the equipment that is used for the procedure.

In addition to breast cancer, physicians have long used other cryotherapy systems to treat cancers of the prostate gland, liver, cervix, kidneys, bones, and skin, as well as benign breast tumors.

Learn more about imaging research at Lifespan »