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Oncology (Williston Park). 1998 Jul;12(7):979-87; discussion 990, 993.

Cryotherapy for liver tumors.

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  • 1Department of Surgery, Baylor University Medical Center, Dallas, Texas, USA.


The curative management of primary and metastatic liver tumors has traditionally relied on surgical resection. Unfortunately, fewer than 10% of newly diagnosed patients have tumors that are considered to be surgically resectable. Limitations that often preclude a safe surgical resection include bilobar or centrally located tumors, insufficient hepatic reserve, cirrhosis, and/or associated comorbid medical conditions. For individuals with unresectable hepatic tumors, the treatment options are few, and the prognosis is uniformly poor. However, cryosurgery is a promising therapeutic alternative for these patients. This rapidly emerging technology allows for image-guided in situ tumor eradication using subzero temperatures, while selectively sparing most normal hepatic tissue. Tumor death occurs by direct cellular freezing and indirectly through vascular thrombosis and tissue anoxia. Accumulating data suggest that cryosurgery is a safe, effective treatment option for patients who would otherwise fair quite poorly, and that it may achieve long-term survival rates similar to those observed with formal surgical resection. This article summarizes the role cryosurgery may play in the management of patients with surgically unresectable primary and metastatic liver tumors.

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