Small (< 2.0-cm) breast cancers: mammographic and US findings at US-guided cryoablation--initial experience

Radiology. 2004 Dec;233(3):857-67. doi: 10.1148/radiol.2333031734.


Purpose: To determine the mammographic and ultrasonographic (US) findings at cryoablation of small solitary invasive breast cancers and compare them with presence of residual malignancy after treatment.

Materials and methods: Institutional review board approval and informed patient consent were obtained. Nine patients with small solitary invasive breast cancers diagnosed at core biopsy were treated with US-guided cryoablation and a 2.7-mm cryoprobe. Mean cancer size was 12 mm (range, 8-18 mm); four were palpable. Tabletop argon gas-based cryoablation system with a double-freeze-thaw protocol was used to treat cancers in outpatient setting. Tumor sites were excised at lumpectomy 2-3 weeks after cryoablation. Findings at mammography and US before, during, and after cryoablation were assessed to categorize densities and masses on mammograms and masses on US images with Breast Imaging Reporting and Data System (BI-RADS); maximum cancer size was measured. Imaging findings and clinical breast examination data were compared with histologic findings from lumpectomy specimens to determine presence of intraductal or invasive cancer.

Results: With US guidance, ice balls (maximal mean size, 4.4 cm) were formed around cancers. Before excision, eight patients underwent mammography; all had new focal densities (maximum size, 2.5-5.0 cm) at cancer sites. Six patients underwent preexcisional US; 100% of them had new hyperechogenicity in tissue surrounding cancer site. Seven (78%) of nine patients had no residual cancer; specimens contained fat necrosis. One patient had a small focus of invasive cancer; one had extensive multifocal ductal carcinoma in situ. Patients with BI-RADS category 1 or 2 densities on mammograms or nonpalpable tumors had no residual malignancy. No residual invasive cancer occurred in tumors 17 mm or smaller or in cancers without spiculated margins at US.

Conclusion: After cryoablation, there was increased echogenicity at US and increased density at mammography; these findings were observed in areas that approximated location and size of the ice ball. Tumor size, mammographic density, and US characteristics may be indicators of likelihood of complete cryoablation.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma, Mucinous / pathology
  • Adenocarcinoma, Mucinous / surgery
  • Aged
  • Biopsy, Needle
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology
  • Breast Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Carcinoma in Situ / pathology
  • Carcinoma in Situ / surgery
  • Carcinoma, Ductal, Breast / pathology
  • Carcinoma, Ductal, Breast / surgery*
  • Cryosurgery / instrumentation
  • Cryosurgery / methods*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Mammography*
  • Mastectomy, Segmental
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness
  • Neoplasm, Residual / pathology
  • Prospective Studies
  • Radiology, Interventional*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Ultrasonography, Mammary*