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The American Society of Breast Surgeons.
Annals of Surgical Oncology

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Focused Microwave Thermotherapy for Preoperative Treatment of Invasive Breast Cancer: A Review of Clinical Studies

William C. Dooley MD, Hernan I. Vargas MD, Alan J. Fenn PhD, Mary Beth Tomaselli MD, Jay K. Harness MD
Medical Oncology
Volume 17, Issue 4 / April , 2010



Preoperative focused microwave thermotherapy (FMT) is a promising method for targeted treatment of breast cancer cells. Results of four multi-institutional clinical studies of preoperative FMT for treating invasive carcinomas in the intact breast are reviewed.


Externally applied wide-field adaptive phased-array FMT has been investigated both as a preoperative heat-alone ablation treatment and as a combination treatment with preoperative anthracycline-based chemotherapy for breast tumors ranging in ultrasound-measured size from 0.8 to 7.8 cm.


In phase I, eight of ten (80%) patients receiving a single low dose of FMT prior to receiving mastectomy had a partial tumor response quantified by either ultrasound measurements of tumor volume reduction or by pathologic cell kill. In phase II, the FMT thermal dose was increased to establish a threshold dose to induce 100% pathologic tumor cell kill for invasive carcinomas prior to breast-conserving surgery (BCS). In a randomized study for patients with early-stage invasive breast cancer, of those patients receiving preoperative FMT at ablative temperatures, 0 of 34 (0%) patients had positive tumor margins, whereas positive margins occurred in 4 of 41 (9.8%) of patients receiving BCS alone (P = 0.13). In a randomized study for patients with large tumors, based on ultrasound measurements the median tumor volume reduction was 88.4% (n = 14) for patients receiving FMT and neoadjuvant chemotherapy, compared with 58.8% (n = 10) reduction in the neoadjuvant chemotherapy-alone arm (P = 0.048).


Wide-field adaptive phased-array FMT can be safely administered in a preoperative setting, and data from randomized studies suggest both a reduction in positive tumor margins as a heat-alone treatment for early-stage breast cancer and a reduction in tumor volume when used in combination with anthracycline-based chemotherapy for patients with large breast cancer tumors. Larger randomized studies are required to verify these conclusions.

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