Breast cancer is one of the most common cancers in the United States. Aside from skin cancers, breast cancer is the most common cancer among women and people with uteruses. The average risk among women and people with uteruses is about 13 percent (about a 1 in 8 chance) in the United States. Estimates suggest about 281,550 new cases of invasive breast cancer among women and people with uteruses.
Although breast cancer is rarer in men and people with penises, it is still possible. The lifetime risk of breast cancer in men and people with penises is about 1 in 833. In 2021, estimates suggest about 2,650 new cases of invasive breast cancer among men and people with penises.
Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths among women and people with uteruses. However, advancements in treatments, along with screening and early breast cancer detection, have allowed for reductions in fatality rates and improvements in survival rates. Cryoablation therapy is just one potential breast cancer treatment. Learn more about breast cancer and cryoablation below.
What Is Breast Cancer?
Breast cancer refers to any cancer that originates within the cells of the breast tissue. Cancer is characterized by the uncontrolled growth of cells. That uncontrolled growth results in the formation of lumps or masses. These can eventually cut off oxygen and nutrients to organs and tissue. When Left untreated, cancer cells can potentially travel through the bloodstream and attach and spread to farther parts of the body in a process known as metastasis.
Human breasts comprise several different structures, and breast cancer can start from nearly any part of the breast. Most breast cancers start in the ducts that carry milk from the milk-producing glands to the nipple. These are known as ductal cancers. Other breast cancers start in the glands that make breast milk and are referred to as lobular cancers. Less common types of breast cancer include angiosarcomas and phyllodes tumors.
There are also some tumors that start in other tissues that are located in the breasts but are not considered breast cancer. For example, cancers that start in lymph tissue, which is part of the immune system, within the breasts are not considered breast cancers.
Signs and Symptoms of Breast Cancer
Perhaps the most prominent sign or symptom of breast cancer is a noticeable mass or lump on your breast. This lump can typically be felt, or it can be seen via x-ray or ultrasound. Lumps can feel hard and painless with irregular edges, or they can feel soft and tender and appear round.
However, it’s important to note that not all lumps found on the breast are cancerous. In fact, most breast lumps are benign, meaning that they are not cancerous and will not grow or spread beyond the breast. Benign breast lumps are not life threatening, but they may increase your risk of developing breast cancer later on. It’s important to have any breast lump checked by a medical professional to determine if it is cancerous or benign for any signs of a possible breast tumor.
Other potential signs or symptoms of breast cancer include:
- Swelling in any part of the breast, even without the presence of a lump
- Skin dimpling that makes the breast look almost like an orange peel
- Nipple retraction (nipples that turn inward)
- Pain in the breasts or nipples
- Discharge from the nipples (other than breast milk)
- Skin on the breast or nipples that are dry, red, flaking, or thicker
Breast cancer may also lead to swollen lymph nodes. This occurs when breast cancer spreads to the lymph nodes under the arms or around the collar bones, creating swelling or a lump. This can happen before a noticeable lump even appears in the breast tissue.
What Causes Breast Cancer?
Experts know that breast cancer occurs when cells begin to grow at an abnormal rate. Cells begin to divide faster than normal, resulting in a lump or mass. This uncontrolled growth is believed to stem from genetic mutations. However, medicine has yet to understand what exactly causes the abnormalities resulting in these genetic mutations.
Most researchers believe that the mutations may come from a mix of hormonal, environmental, and lifestyle factors. Hereditary factors may also play a role. However, there’s no singular factor that contributes to breast cancer. It’s unclear why some people with several risk factors never develop cancer, while some people with no risk factors do develop breast cancer.
It’s important to see a doctor when one notices any signs of breast cancer. Receiving early stage breast cancer treatment can be very essential when detecting it early on. It can also prevent other issues such as tumor cells from spreading or developing metastatic breast cancer. Either way, there are some invasive treatments such as a cryoablation procedure.
What Is Cryoablation?
Cryoablation is a potential treatment for cancer and various other conditions. The process involves the use of extreme cold, usually administered in the form of a gas, to kill abnormal cells or diseased tissue. Cryoablation is also sometimes referred to as cryotherapy or cryosurgery.
You may already be familiar with forms of cryoablation for treating blemishes and abnormalities on the skin, including warts, moles, skin tags, and actinic keratosis. Along with these surface level applications, cryoablation treatment may be administered in deeper tissue to destroy breast cancer tumors.
For these deeper tissues, the doctor uses a cryoprobe, which looks like a long, thin, wand-like needle. Making an incision, the doctor inserts the cryoprobe into your skin, allowing for direct application of the cold gas into the cancerous breast tumor. The gases used include:
- Liquid nitrogen
- Liquid nitrous oxide
- Compressed argon gas
The gas gets pumped through the cryoprobe, freezing the cancerous tissue and destroying it. The tissue is allowed to thaw before it is frozen again. The doctor continues that freezing-thawing cycle several times during the session.
The Advantages of Cryoablation
While there are various potential and existing treatments for breast cancer, you may be wondering what sets cryoablation breast cancer treatment apart. The biggest advantage of cryoablation treatment: it is noninvasive or minimally invasive. At most, the procedure requires a small incision, but that is significantly minimal compared to open surgery. Not to mention cryoablation prostate cancer therapy is also offered as a noninvasive treatment.
Being minimally invasive also means less damage to surrounding healthy tissue. That also contributes to less scarring, lower chances of infection, and a reduced recovery time.
Cryoablation is not for everyone. Depending on the extent of the cancer, cryoablation alone may not be enough to completely destroy the cancer cells. Thankfully, there are numerous other forms of treatment, including chemotherapy, immunotherapy, and radiation therapy, that may help to eliminate the cancer from your body.
It’s important for a possible breast cancer patient to get regular checkups for a potential breast cancer tumor or tumor cells to be able to receive noninvasive early stage breast cancer treatment like cryoablation. Cryoablation procedure may be an effective and minimally invasive treatment for breast cancer. If you have been diagnosed with breast cancer, consult your doctor to determine if cryoablation is right for you or to identify other potential treatment options. You can also visit the Immunity Therapy Center for more information on cancer treatment options.
- Cancer.org. Key Statistics for Breast Cancer. https://www.cancer.org/cancer/breast-cancer/about/how-common-is-breast-cancer.html
- Brastcancer.org. U.S. Breast Cancer Statistics. https://www.breastcancer.org/symptoms/understand_bc/statistics
- Cancer.org. What Is Breast Cancer? https://www.cancer.org/cancer/breast-cancer/about/what-is-breast-cancer.html
- Cancer.org. Breast Cancer Signs and Symptoms. https://www.cancer.org/cancer/breast-cancer/screening-tests-and-early-detection/breast-cancer-signs-and-symptoms.html
- Cleveland Clinic. Cryoablation. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/treatments/16903-cryoablation
At Immunity Therapy Center, our goal is to provide objective, updated, and research-based information on all health-related topics. This article is based on scientific research and/or other scientific articles. All information has been fact-checked and reviewed by Dr. Carlos Bautista, a Board Certified Medical Doctor at Immunity Therapy Center. All information published on the site must undergo an extensive review process to ensure accuracy. This article contains trusted sources with all references hyperlinked for the reader's visibility.