Memorial Medical Center Cyroablation TeamThis semester Kamran Kamali, MD, an associate professor of surgery at the Burrell College of Osteopathic Medicine, performed the first cyroablation of malignant breast cancer in New Mexico.

Cryoablation is a minimally invasive, nonsurgical approach to freeze tumors, resulting in the destruction of cancer cells. A potential benefit of cryoablation is that it may trigger an immune response against any remaining tumor cells.

The successful procedure took place at the Memorial Medical Center HealthPlex in Las Cruces, NM and was a combined effort between Dr. Kamali; Memorial Chief Radiologist Rob Shoots, MD; and Memorial’s radiology team. BCOM medical students Giselle Irio and Scott Wallace also had the opportunity to observe the procedure.

The patient was an elderly female with breast cancer who refused a mastectomy or lumpectomy to control her cancer.

“This procedure was the best choice to respect the wishes of her medical care,” said Dr. Kamali, who is a general surgeon at Memorial Medical Center. “Currently, this procedure is in randomized clinical research trials for breast cancer treatment. This will hopefully become another option for some, but not all, breast cancer patients in the near future.”

The procedure was performed under a local anesthetic and the cryoablation needle was directed into the breast cancer mass, which was less than 1 cm (smaller than an average marble), using ultrasound guidance. Argon gas was then used to form an ice ball around the needle, freezing the tumor. The freeze-thaw cycle was repeated, resulting in cancer cell death.

The procedure was a result of successful collaboration between surgery and radiology that allowed Memorial to offer a new treatment to a patient that would otherwise not have been treatable.

John Harris, CEO of Memorial Medical Center said, “The Memorial Medical Cancer Center is the most comprehensive cancer center in Southern New Mexico, and this is a clear example of our commitment of bringing high-quality safe care for our cancer patients.”

He added, “This procedure is a true inspiration and an exciting time for medical advancement in treating breast cancer and offering this leading service for our community.”