Mesothelioma Cryotherapy: Benefits, Risks, & Success Rates

Mesothelioma Cryotherapy works by freezing cancer cells to slow the growth of the disease and is often combined with surgery.

Key points

  1. Cryotherapy is currently being tested as a treatment for pleural mesothelioma.
  2. Cryotherapy consists of freezing cells and can be used for local tumors.
  3. Clinical trials have found that cryotherapy produces minimal side effects.
  4. Researchers are working to improve the effectiveness of new treatments.

Cryotherapy also known as cryoablation, is a treatment for invasive mesothelioma that uses extremely cold temperatures to destroy cancer. Cryotherapy has been tested in clinical trials for malignant pleural mesothelioma and has shown some success in slowing tumor growth and progression. Current research is actively working to improve mesothelioma treatments.

How Does Mesothelioma Cryotherapy Works?

Cryotherapy works by damaging mesothelioma tumors at the cellular level. It is considered a localized therapy because it is applied directly to solid tumors in specific areas of the body and cannot be easily used throughout the body like systemic chemotherapy. Therefore, cryotherapy may not be possible for advanced-stage mesothelioma patients because cancer has spread too far for the treatment to be effective.

Cryotherapy works on at least 5mm of tumor or damaged tissue to create a “cryofrost” over the affected area and ensure that all cancer cells are cured. The treatment is performed with a cryoprobe – a hollow tube instrument that delivers liquid nitrogen or argon gas directly into tumors or damaged tissue. Extreme cold, even as low as -200, freezes and kills cancer cells, especially with repeated use.

With the help of imaging tests to guide the program, doctors work through the process of repeatedly freezing, thawing, and refreezing the cancerous tissue. Depending on the size of the area, this process can take minutes or hours. After the procedure, the frozen tissue can be surgically removed, but with this type of treatment, the cancer cells can be broken up by the immune system and white blood cells and reabsorbed into the body.

Mesothelioma Cryotherapy has been shown to be successful in a variety of cancers, including skin cancer and kidney disease, other skin conditions, and rheumatoid arthritis. Cryotherapy and early clinical trials for pleural mesothelioma have shown that the treatment can be safe and effective.

Mesothelioma Cryotherapy Success Rates

Several clinical trials have tested cryotherapy for pleural mesothelioma and so far have shown varying degrees of success. Recently, the Mayo Clinic is testing mesothelioma cryotherapy as a new treatment for surgery two weeks after cryoablation.The researchers will observe how 2 or 3 applications of cryospray during pleuroscopy (a minimally invasive procedure for viewing the pleural space) will affect the ability to surgically remove residual tumors or cancer cells after a recovery period of approximately 14 days.

Percentage Of Patients With No Recurrence
  • 30 days: 100%
  • 6 months: 92.5%
  • 12 months: 90.8%
  • 24 months:87.3%
  • 36 months: 73.7%

In the past, mesothelioma cryotherapy has been tested for recurrences, which are common among mesothelioma patients, and in many cases, recurrent mesothelioma is more difficult to treat. A recent clinical trial looked at 24 patients with an average size of 30 mm who underwent 110 cryoablations with CT scans between 2008 and 2012. Overall, the researchers found the treatment to be safe, with minimal side effects.A clinical trial was successful in slowing disease progression and improving survival.

A similar clinical trial examined the efficacy of cryotherapy for recurrent pleural mesothelioma in patients who had previously undergone aggressive surgery, particularly pleurectomy/decoration. Median disease-free survival was 24.5 months for the 24 patients in the study.

In total, patients had 107 tumors treated with cryotherapy. Patients were typically treated with two probes that worked together to freeze mesothelioma cells, averaging about 25 minutes per lesion. The researchers noted that the average area of tissue to be frozen was 6.5 mm. After one round of studies, the researchers found that 95.3% of the treated tumors had a complete response and stopped growing, resulting in a median survival of 11.4 months. With multiple rounds of minimally invasive treatment, patients have increased their average life expectancy by up to 36 months.

Since the trials are still in their early stages, there is only a small data set of patients who have undergone the treatment, so more trials will be needed to better understand the safety and efficacy of cryoablation. With the success of these early trials, researchers hope that the treatment could become another great tool for mesothelioma.

Benefits And Risks Of Mesothelioma Cryotherapy

Although clinical trials show that total cryotherapy is as safe a treatment as any cancer treatment, there are risks. In general, doctors note that the risks of mesothelioma cryotherapy may be greater than those of other conventional treatments, such as radiation. Side effects of cryoablation vary depending on where the treatment is used.

Common Risks Of Mesothelioma Cryotherapy
  • Damage to surrounding tissues
  • Blood vessel damage
  • Loss of sensation if nerves are affected
  • The risk of infection is greater

When considering the risks of cryotherapy, mesothelioma patients must weigh the potential benefits of the treatment. Aggressive mesothelioma treatments, such as various surgical procedures, are more invasive, have longer recovery times, and carry more risks. Because mesothelioma cryotherapy treatment is a minimally invasive procedure, patients have a shorter recovery period and often experience fewer side effects. The success of cryotherapy can be monitored in real time, as doctors monitor progress through imaging scans as the therapy is administered.

The researchers noted that the treatment was also safe for relapse, which may be particularly important for relapse cases. Cancer may be an option for patients who do not respond to standard treatments such as chemotherapy. Research is looking at mesothelioma cryotherapy as a way to treat more advanced, unresectable cancer or cancer.

As researchers conduct more trials, the role of cryotherapy for mesothelioma will become clearer and the success rate will increase.

Cost and Availability of Cryotherapy for Mesothelioma Patients

The cost of cryotherapy for mesothelioma patients can vary greatly depending on the location and type of treatment. In general, cryotherapy is not covered by most insurance plans, and patients may need to pay for it out-of-pocket. Some mesothelioma specialty centers may offer cryotherapy as part of a comprehensive treatment plan, which can help reduce the overall cost. The availability of cryotherapy for mesothelioma patients may also vary depending on the patient’s location and the availability of specialized medical equipment and trained personnel.

Potential Side Effects and Risks of Cryotherapy

Cryotherapy is a relatively safe procedure, but like any medical procedure, there are potential side effects and risks that patients should be aware of. Common side effects include pain and discomfort at the site of treatment, swelling, redness, and bruising. In some cases, cryotherapy may also cause damage to nearby healthy tissue, which can lead to scarring or other long-term effects. Risks associated with cryotherapy may also depend on the type of treatment, the location of cancer, and the patient’s overall health.

Research and Clinical Trials on Cryotherapy for Mesothelioma

There have been several studies and clinical trials that have investigated the use of cryotherapy for mesothelioma. However, many of these studies have been small and have had limited sample sizes, which can limit their overall validity. To date, there is limited evidence to support the use of cryotherapy for mesothelioma, and more research is needed to determine its effectiveness and safety.

Design and Sample Size of Cryotherapy Research and Clinical Trials

The design and sample size of cryotherapy research and clinical trials can vary greatly depending on the study. Some studies may be observational in nature and may involve a small number of patients, while others may be randomized controlled trials (RCTs) with larger sample sizes. Sample size can play an important role in the overall validity of a study, as larger sample sizes may help to reduce the risk of bias and increase the overall reliability of the results.