Fighting breast cancer on your lunch break

FRESNO, Calif.

For 17 years, Gunilla Pilo (guh-nilla pee-low) enjoyed a challenging career planning dinners for the Nobel Prize held each year at city hall in Stockholm, Sweden.

"It's a grand festivity. The most prestigious dinner of all I think," Gunilla Pilo told Ivanhoe. But after retiring last year, she faced a bigger challenge. Doctors found a cancerous tumor in her breast.

"It was a shock," Gunilla said.

She enrolled in a research study on a new technique to kill breast tumors known as preferential radio frequency ablation or PRFA , the brain child of professor Hans Wiksell.

"As soon as you have it done, you can say to the patient that now the tumor cannot spreadanymore," Hans Wiksell , a Professor of Medical Technology at Karolinska Institute in Sweden, explained.

The goal is to catch it at an early stage.

"We find that 50-60 percent of cancers are smaller than 10 millimeters. They are smaller than your little fingernail, and those women, if we can get them to go through minimally invasive therapy instead of surgery, it will help them a lot," Karin Leifland, M.D., Ph.D., a mammography physician and head of the Unilabs Mammography Department at Capio S:t Göran´s Hospital in Stockholm, said.

Here's how it works, doctors place a thin electrode guided by ultrasound into the tumor. The tumor is then heated to 167- degrees, killing it and leaving the surrounding tissue unharmed.

"The DNA and other things inside dies, so it could not live anymore, it could not divide anymore," Wiksell said.

The non-invasive surgery can be done in an hour, with no scars and no recovery time.

"You could do it at your lunch time and then go back and work afterwards. You don't really feel anything," Gunilla said.

Because of PRFA, Gunilla's now cancer-free and enjoying the beauty around her.

Researchers at Karolinska University and Saint Goran Hospital in Sweden are continuing their study of PRFA with elderly women who, because of their age, are often not fit for surgery. So far, the PRFA technique has worked 100-percent of the time for this population.

Karin Leifland, M.D., Ph.D.
Capio S:t Göran´s Hospital in Stockholm

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