A novel method for the treatment of esophageal cancer is being studied at the University of Maryland. Known as Spray Cryotherapy (CRYO), the technique uses the application of extreme cold in the form of low pressure liquid Nitrogen sprayed at the diseased tissue. Cycles of spraying and thawing are repeated over a 30 minute period, resulting in necrosis and regeneration of healthy tissue. Introduced in 2007 as truFreeze(R) by CSA Medical(R), the method has already been associated with minimal side effects and up 97% success rates in regenerating cells in the digestive tract of patients with Barrett’s esophagus (BE). BE is a medical condition that causes the lining of the esophagus to be replaced by the lining similar to that of the intestines. Linked to chronic reflux disease, BE puts patients at an increased risk of esophageal cancer. Among some of the side effects observed with CRYO in BE were 3% strictures (tightening of the esophagus), 2% severe chest discomfort, and 1% hospitalization for rectal bleeding. Other studies as well, have reported on the safety and effectiveness of CRYO as a method for endoscopic ablation (removal of unhealthy tissue in the mucosal layer of the esophagus). The current study is undertaking CRYO therapy in patients with esophageal cancer, who are unfit or unresponsive to conventional cancer therapies such as surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, and endoscopic resection.
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Written by Julia Yusupova