The Mayo Clinic has started a new clinical trial to test freezing mesothelioma tumors. In the trial, doctors use liquid nitrogen to freeze tumors before removing them from the patient’s body. This clinical trial is currently recruiting patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma.

This innovative approach has shown promise when used against other types of cancer. Now, the Mayo Clinic wants to bring that hope to mesothelioma patients.

The Cryotherapy Procedure

The experimental cryotherapy treatment in this clinical trial will involve 2 to 3 applications of cryospray on the affected area. Cryospray is made of liquid nitrogen. It is sprayed onto tumors to freeze them.

This clinical trial is testing the ability of these cryospray treatments to trigger an immune response from the patient’s body. The hope is that the immune system will continue to fight off mesothelioma after the frozen tumors are removed.

The procedure consists of several applications of cryospray. The doctor will use the spray to freeze the mesothelioma-affected area in small sections at a time.

Here’s a summary of the process used for the trial:

  • 1
    The doctor freezes over a minimum of 2 cm² for 15 to 20 seconds.
  • 2
    About 60 seconds is allotted for the space to thaw.
  • 3
    The doctor repeats the procedure in the same area up to 2 times.
  • 4
    The first 3 steps are repeated on more small areas, adding up to at least 6 cm².

Trial Details and Process

The trial has two arms: an experimental arm and a control arm. This is an open label study, so patients and their doctors will know which treatment they are going to receive.

Participants in both arms will have their blood drawn and then undergo a pleuroscopy to collect pleural fluid and biopsies. The patients in the experimental arm will also receive cryotherapy treatment during their pleuroscopy.

All patients will receive standard surgical treatment about 14 days after their pleuroscopy. They will also have their blood drawn and pleural fluid and biopsies collected again. Hopefully, by this point, the body’s immune system will have been triggered by the cryotherapy to fight the patient’s mesothelioma.

“It also is less toxic and requires less aggressive surgery afterwards,” said Dr. Tobias Peikert, Mayo Clinic pulmonologist.

Patient Number One

The first patient enrolled in the trial is Mary Kuntz, a 68 year-old grandmother. She was asked by the Mayo Clinic to participate in the trial after being diagnosed with mesothelioma last summer. Since being diagnosed, Mary has received overwhelming support from her family and friends.

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About the Writer, Jamie Iovino

Jamie Iovino is the senior writer at Mesothelioma Guide. She creates and edits pages to make sure mesothelioma patients and their families receive the newest and most accurate information about mesothelioma.