Microwave Heat May Be Helpful for Breast Cancer Patients Before Lumpectomy (dateline 14, 2003)
Early results of a study presented at a meeting of the Society of Surgical Oncology reveal that microwave heat may destroy breast cancer cells. The treatment may be helpful for breast cancer patients planning to undergo lumpectomies to remove their tumors since less breast tissue would need to be removed. According to researchers, the microwave therapy heats and destroys cancer cells while leaving healthy cells alone. Though further research is needed, these preliminary results provide hope that eventually fewer women will need fewer surgeries to remove their breast cancer tumors.
With the experimental microwave therapy, physicians apply heat to breast tissue to destroy the cancer. Until recently, researchers have not been able to effectively kill breast cancer cells without inadvertently harming healthy cells, limiting the use of microwaves to the treatment of skin tumors. However, recent animal trials with microwave treatment reveal no damage to tissue surrounding the tumors.
In the current study, lead researcher Hernan Vargas, MD, Chief of Surgical Oncology at the University of California at Los Angeles Harbor Medical Center and colleagues treated 25 patients with Adaptive Phased Array (APA) microwave treatment prior to surgery. The results showed that 24 of the 25 patients had no remaining cancer cells after the microwave treatment.
The goal of microwave treatment is to eliminate the need for a second surgery after lumpectomy. (A second surgery removes cancer cells missed during the first surgery). According to researchers, one fourth to one half of patients who undergo lumpectomy experience a recurrence of cancer which requires additional surgery. Radiation therapy can be used to reduce the chances of a recurrence of cancer. In the present study, the 24 patients did not require a second surgery after the initial microwave treatment and lumpectomy.
"While the preliminary results are not conclusive, we believe that, when the fully randomized study is completed and analyzed, the data, will demonstrate the effectiveness of this investigational treatment," said Dr Vargas, in a Celsion Corporation news release. Celsion Corporation sponsored the clinical trial with their Adaptive Phased Array microwave treatment technology. "If proven effective, this treatment would mark a significant step forward in the treatment of breast cancer and breast conservation," said Dr. Vargas.
In the study, common side effects of the microwave treatment included pain, redness and swelling. In one case, a woman experienced burns from the treatment as well as skin necrosis (dead skin).
According to Celsion Corporation, the following sites are now running clinical trials with microwave treatment technology: Harbor Medical Center, University of California at Los Angeles; Columbia Hospital in West Palm Beach, Florida; the University of Oklahoma, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; Comprehensive Breast Center of Coral Springs, Coral Springs, Florida; Mroz-Baier Breast Care Clinic, Memphis, Tennessee; Breast Care Specialists, P.C., Norfolk, Virginia and Pearl Place Breast Center, Tacoma, Wisconsin.
Women interested in participating in the clinical trials with microwave treatment technology should contact Celsion at 800.262.0394 and ask for Celsion's Medical Director, Dr. William Gannon. Currently, microwave treatment remains experimental and is not performed outside of clinical trials.