ATLANTA, Feb. 3, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Research now shows that cryoablation can be an effective treatment alternative for multiple cancer types, including breast cancer, according to Image Guided Cancer Specialists. By itself, the technique can destroy tumors from the inside out while leaving behind only minimal scarring. When combined with a pair of recently approved cancer-fighting drugs, however, cryoablation can help stimulate the body's own immune response to seek out and destroy any remaining cancer cells and prevent tumor regrowth.
"Immuno-oncology is a promising new area of cancer treatment, and we're excited to be at the leading edge of such developments," explained lead radiologist Dr. Jason R. Williams. "Cryoablation, our specialized and targeted approach to destroying tumors, leaves behind a mass of dead cells, which can encourage the immune system to see those cells as threatening. By adding immune-modulating drugs to our treatment protocol, we're ramping up that effect and increasing the power of the body's own defenses."
The team at Image Guided Cancer Specialists is among the most experienced in the world in the area of thermal ablation techniques, which involve the direct, physical destruction of tumors. With cryoablation, doctors insert a needle into the tumor, and gases circulate through the tip of the needle to produce extreme cold. The surrounding cancer cells then freeze and die. The critical variable in successful cryoablation is the precise placement of the needle. To ensure precision, doctors use ultrasound or computed tomography to see exactly what's happening inside the patient and guide the needle to the center of the tumor. Also the doctors are evaluating different techniques of ablation and their effect on the anti-cancer immune response. "Not all ablation techniques are equal, when it comes to immune response," states Dr. Williams.
After cryoablation destroys most of the cancerous cells, the injection of medications at the tumor site removes the "brakes" from the immune system. Once the body has clearly identified the cancer as a threat, the odds of tumor regrowth are significantly reduced. The result of this combination attack is the creation of a personalized cancer vaccine, produced by the immune system itself.
Yervoy and Keytruda are the two new drugs being employed by Image Guided Cancer Specialists in this novel, promising approach to cancer. Both drugs have been approved primarily for metastatic and non-operable melanoma, a skin cancer, and both work by altering how the immune system functions.
Yervoy is known as a CTLA-4 inhibitor; the drug amplifies the anti-tumor activity of T cells, the part of the immune response that hunts out threats within the body. In clinical trials, participants saw improved longevity compared with standard treatments.
Keytruda earned fast-track approval in 2014. Known as a PD-1 inhibitor, the drug blocks a specific cellular pathway that usually prevents the immune system from attacking cancer cells. Keytruda and Yervoy are normally used as a one-two punch with patients who have difficult-to-treat melanoma. In other forms of cancer, the drugs are still experimental, but Image Guided Cancer Specialists is already seeing promising results from its cryoablation and drug combination approach.
"We have to change the way we think of treating cancer and generating tumor vaccines," added Dr. Williams. "What we're doing marks the beginning of a paradigm shift. The direct injection of drugs into tumors helps kick start the immune response right where it's needed most."
Image Guided Cancer Specialists has begun preliminary work to test whether the new method could be useful in enhancing outcomes for those with liver cancer. As imagining and ablation technology continues to improve, the team anticipates celebrating significant victories in the ongoing war on cancer.
About Image Guided Cancer Specialists
Image Guided Cancer Specialists is a group of physicians in the USA and Latin America that uses image-guided methods such as cryoablation, microwave and radiofrequency ablation to treat cancer. In addition, they work with the injection of immune-stimulating drugs that are injected directly into cancer under image guidance.
SOURCE Image Guided Cancer Specialists