CAESAREA, Israel (CBS Newspath/Reuters) - When Nelida Ivaldi was diagnosed with a tumor in her breast, she was terrified of what she thought was going to be a long, painful treatment. But after undergoing cryoablation therapy to freeze her tumor, she was surprised by how quick and painless the whole thing was.
Ivaldi, a retired teacher, took part in clinical trials for a new treatments that allow the ablation of some breast cancer tumors within a 20-30 minute-session. It was a minimally invasive procedure developed by Israeli company IceCure.
A metal probe is inserted into the breast and then freezes only the targeted tissue, leaving healthy tissues unharmed and a tiny scar that heals within days. As it requires nothing more than an ultrasound, IceCure's device and local anesthesia, it can be performed in any clean room and the patient can go back to her normal life as soon as the treatment is over.
Elizabeth Sadka, IceCure's VP of Clinic Regulatory & Quality, explained that criteria for the treatment include the stage, size and shape of the tumor - in breast cancer it must be in stage 1 or 2, a solid tumor that is not bigger than about half an inch (1.5 cm).
In October 2018, the American Society of Breast Surgeons (ASBS) updated its guidelines to recommend that surgeons take part in clinical trials for treating malignant breast tumors. This followed the publication in May of IceCure's results of latest clinical trials on 146 patients in 18 leading US hospitals and clinics, with only one case of recurrence.
In Japan, over 200 women participated in clinical trials and showed recurrence rate of less than 1% over a three to five years of follow up.
With these results, the company says that its cryoablation technology seems to be at least as good as the current standard of care and even better.
Shamir told Reuters that the market for such therapy could reach $800 million in 2018 and expect it to reach a value of some $2 billion by 2025.
IceCure's treatment costs around $4,000 which is about a third of the cost of an average mastectomy surgery, Shamir said, so it allows a significant cut in costs in addition to the benefits to patients.
The treatment is already commercially available for patients outside clinical trials in Israel, the U.S., Japan, Mexico and several European countries.