Cancer Below Zero


Through the ages, cancer has remained one of the most bewildering diseases for doctors; no definite cure has been found for cancer yet. However, a ray of hope has appeared with the discovery of cancer cryotherapy. Removing cancerous cells using cryotherapy is considered one of the most prominent technological techniques used after the approval of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1998.

In this procedure, cancerous cells are destroyed on exposure to extreme cold produced by liquid nitrogen or argon gas. This technique could be used in treating external tumors, such as skin cancer, using a sprayer to direct the gas on the infected part, after which a shell is created as the frozen tissues melt. As for internal tumors, doctors will need to use a thin needle called CryoProbe and direct it towards the tumor. They control it using MRI or Ultrasound to avoid destroying the healthy cells. The frozen tissues then melt and the body absorbs them naturally.

Cryotherapy can be used to treat many types of tumors, including bone, cervical, liver, kidney, lung, or prostate cancer, as well as early stages of skin cancer, in addition to retinal tumors. However, this procedure is still under experimentation to know whether or not it can be used to treat breast cancer. Although some complications occur with most discoveries, cryotherapy risks are less than those of surgery or radiotherapy, and the risk levels differ depending on the tumor's place. Still, it requires additional studies to learn about long-term effects.

This technique surpasses other techniques for treating cancer with many features, including:

  • Simple surgical intervention.
  • Inexpensive.
  • Recovery requires a short time.
  • The procedure sometimes only requires local anesthetics.
  • It can be used with those who are not eligible for traditional surgery because of their age or other medical conditions.
  • It is considered a suitable treatment for tumors that cannot be treated with surgery or do not respond to traditional treatments.
  • It can be repeated or used with other treatments, such as surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation.

Despite all that, this procedure has one fundamental flaw; doctors cannot predict its long-term efficiency. In some cases, where the cancerous cells are small, it is difficult to mark them using the imaging devices that doctors use during the freezing procedure. It is essential to stick to doctor’s orders after the surgery; to avoid infection by changing bandages regularly.

Technological development helped create a new method for treating tumors by freezing them; we hope to enrich the scientific research with more innovations to get rid of this dreaded disease forever.


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SCIplanet is a bilingual edutainment science magazine published by the Bibliotheca Alexandrina Planetarium Science Center and developed by the Cultural Outreach Publications Unit ...
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