Breast Cancer Produces An Encouraging Discovery


Return to: Home | Information | Restaurants | Tips | For Restaurateurs | Newsletter | List of Popular Topics

Our Feel-Good War on Breast Cancer — For more on this New York Times piece; click: feelgood

In “Pink Ribbon Blues,” Gayle Sulik, a sociologist and founder of the Breast Cancer Consortium, credits Komen (as well as the American Cancer Society and National Breast Cancer Awareness Month) with raising the profile of the disease, encouraging women to speak about their experience and transforming “victims” into “survivors.” Komen, she said, has also distributed more than $1 billion to research and support programs. At the same time, the function of pink-ribbon culture — and Komen in particular — has become less about eradication of breast cancer than self-perpetuation: maintaining the visibility of the disease and keeping the funds rolling in. “You have to look at the agenda for each program involved,” Sulik said. “If the goal is eradication of breast cancer, how close are we to that? Not very close at all. If the agenda is awareness, what is it making us aware of? That breast cancer exists?

***For Women with Breast Cancer, It's Buyer Beware*** — For more on this Newsweek piece, click: outcome

Cryoablation (Cryosurgery)

Your editor/publisher shares a personal e-mail she sent to friends:

I put one of my breasts on the block (total mastectomy) on September 30, 2005. (Luckily, the surgery went, "as well as could be expected." The margins — the area around the cancers — were cancer cell-free, according to the surgeon. Convalescing is slow but sure. I'm entertaining myself with thoughts of embellishing the void. Perhaps I'll finally sport a tattoo. All options are open!)

The primary reason for this e-mail is to pass on something "sweet" (cryoablation or cryosurgery) discovered during a sour experience, but first, a short digression:

A friend recently insisted that I read "A Cancer Memoir" by Marjorie Williams that appeared in the October issue of Vanity Fair. "You won't believe the dumb things people say when they learn a friend has cancer," he said.

Reading Williams' memoir, I felt more fortunate than she in my choice of friends and acquaintances, not to mention, recent interlopers in my life. For the most part, they spared me most of the collection of inappropriate comments she outlined in her article. However, I, too, shared her rage when someone tried to cheer me up by reciting a happy tale like the one she related: ". . . a sister-in-law's cousin had liver cancer but now he's 80 and hasn't been troubled by it in 40 years."

Williams' memoir made me feel more fortunate in yet another way. No time is good to be diagnosed with cancer, but surely, "later" is better. I'm grateful my kids are grown and that I've lived a lot of life.

Making "lemonade":

This past August, I met with Dr. Helena Chang, the director of the Revlon/UCLA Breast Center in hopes of becoming a candidate for cryoablation or cryosurgery. I wasn't, but one of your friends may be.

Here's what you need to know about cryoablation (excerpted in part from "Breast Cancer's Cold War" — Los Angeles Times — 5/7/04)

1 - Cryoablation doesn't require a large incision and can be performed in a doctor's office in less than an hour using only local anesthetic.

Helped by ultrasound images, the physician guides a thin, needle-like probe through a small puncture in the breast until it penetrates the center of the tumor.

[Currently, to qualify for this procedure, a tumor must be small — from 1 to 1.5 centimeters. And it must reside "within" the breast. I know from experience! Marya]

Cold argon gas is pumped through the probe, causing an ice ball to form around the tumor. The ice is allowed to thaw, and the freeze-thaw cycle is repeated. Within a few weeks, the dead tissue is absorbed by the body's immune system.

(Compare the above to the current standard treatment for women diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer: Tumors are removed by lumpectomy, a surgical procedure requiring general anesthesia. Often, it leaves a cavity in the breast.)

"This method is potentially much better than current treatments. It's less expensive, virtually pain free, doesn't have the possible complications of surgery, and it gives an excellent cosmetic result because the breast maintains its normal shape." Dr. Michael S. Sabel, surgical oncologist - University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center in Ann Arbor.

Cryoablation may even provide an added benefit. In mopping up the tumor, the immune system's white blood cells are exposed to special proteins on the surface of the cancer cells. Scientists speculate that this might "train" the immune system to recognize the cancer cells as foreign invaders. This could provoke an immune response in which white blood cells destroy tumor cells should they recur or spread to other parts of the body.

"In studies on mice, freezing tumors increase the body's immune response to cancer, but we don't know yet if the same process occurs in humans." Dr. Michael S. Sabel

Pilot study: Four weeks after cryoablation, 27 women with early-stage cancers returned to have their tumors removed by lumpectomy and examined under a microscope to determine whether any live cancer cells were left. Researchers found that the procedure destroyed all cancers less than 1 centimeter in diameter. It was also effective in women with tumors up to 1.5 centimeters who suffered from a type of cancer known as invasive ductal carcinoma.
[Yet another incentive to get a yearly mammogram --- discover cancers when they're small. Marya]

1 - Cryoablation or cryosurgery is a "known technique" — used as an alternative to conventional surgery for some types of cancer and precancerous conditions. It's used to treat early stage-stage prostate, liver and skin cancers, cancers that have spread to the liver, precancerous skin growths (actinic keratosis) and abnormal lesions in the cervix.

2 - Cryoablation for breasts is currently termed, "experimental" which means that your insurance company won't pay.

[But when you think about minimizing down time, trauma, pain, disfigurement . . . Marya]

Be well — Marya

Marya Charles Alexander, Editor and Publisher — and

Response — 4/1/11— to above:

I saw your article on cryoablation for breast cancer and would like to add a few comments:
Cryoablation (freezing tumors to death) for cancer has been successfully used in the US for over 20 years. Most of these applications have focused on other areas of the body (prostrate, liver, kidney, etc).
Cryoablation has been used to treat benign breast tumors (fibroadenomas) for over 10 years now. Thousands of cases have been performed with no reported incidence of regrowth.
Cryoablation produces no dimpling and a minimal 3mm (about 1/8”) scar which generally fades completely within 3-4 months. Because no tissue is removed from the breast, no dimpling occurs.
Cryoablation for fibroadenomas carries the CPT code of 19105 and is covered by most insurers.

Sanarus Technologies, LLC, produces the liquid nitrogen-based Visica 2TM Cryoablation Treatment System which was chosen by the National Cancer Institute as exclusive medical device for the Z1072 Breast Cancer Clinical Trial (Phase 2). The trial is about 50% completed and is producing excellent results to date.

More information is available at
BJ Hardman -
CEO & Chief Coach
Sanarus Technologies, LLC
7068 Koll Center Parkway, Suite 425
Pleasanton, CA 94566
Mobile: 650-941-6554 0: 925-460-5717
Fax: 925-846-8196

Return to Top

Our Feel-Good War on Breast Cancer — New York Times — 4/25/13

Are you troubled by the controversy over mammogram screening?

Are you troubled by the fact that though Komen trademarked the phrase “for the cure,”

only 16 percent of the $472 million raised in 2011, the most recent year for which financial reports are available, went toward research.

I strongly encourage all women to read this article (and the comments following it.).

Here's a link:

New study underlines how much difference in outcome a good surgeon makes. Good luck finding one. Newsweek — 1/3/11

Here's a link:

Here's how the surgeon who did my mastectomy responded to the piece:

"The issue is complex. As you know, the choice of surgeon is important. But there is not such thing as simple data. Even the question of whether patients receive radiation after their operation is difficult. How do they account for a 52 year old patient’s choice not to have radiation? Or the choice of an 89 year old patient not to have radiation because there is no benefit in survival in that age group. These are just a few of the issues that make collecting the data they reference in the article so complex.
No easy answers!"

If you have questions or comments about this Web page or site, e-mail:

© 2013

Return to Top