Cryotherapy freezes eye cancer in its tracks

Cryotherapy freezes eye cancer in its tracks
Each visit, Dr. Rick Fraunfelder checks the cornea for a patchy, brown pigment known as pre-melanoma. (Source: Each visit, Dr. Rick Fraunfelder checks the cornea for a patchy, brown pigment known as pre-melanoma.)

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - You may have heard of elite athletes who use extreme cold to speed recovery after a tough workout.

Thanks to cryotherapy, patients have been able to keep their eyesight.

Each year, fewer than 3,000 Americans are diagnosed with ocular melanoma, a rare form of eye cancer.

Up to 45% of people die from their melanoma within 10 years, so it's considered something doctors treat aggressively.

Each visit, Dr. Rick Fraunfelder checks the cornea for a patchy, brown pigment known as pre-melanoma.

If it’s spotted, he freezes the cells using a liquid nitrogen vapor, which can reach -320°F.

“It’s what we call tumoricidal," Fraunfelder said. "It’s very good at killing cancer cells. And so a rapid freeze and a slow thaw is what kills cancer cells.”

Cryotherapy can also be used to treat some cancers outside of the eye, including melanoma on the liver and on the skin.

For more information on ocular melanoma, click here.

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