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Radiofrequency Ablation

 

As experts in minimally-invasive, image-guided procedures, Interventional Radiologists are uniquely skilled in delivering targeted treatments to sites of primary or metastatic cancer throughout the body. In treating cancer patients, interventional radiologists can attack the cancer tumor from inside the body while lowering the risk to normal organs, and reducing recovery times and discomfort.

Thermal Ablation Treatments
By the time lung cancer is diagnosed, 85 percent of patients are inoperable, often due to serious coexisting health conditions or poor respiratory function. For these patients, Minimally Invasive Interventional Radiology procedures can provide effective treatment of the tumor with minimal discomfort and a maintained quality of life.

Radiofrequency Ablation
Radiofrequency ablation (RFA) offers a nonsurgical, localized treatment that kills the tumor cells with heat, while sparing nearby healthy lung tissue. As a result, RFA is much easier on the patient than systemic therapy. Radiofrequency ablation can be performed in most patients without affecting their overall health, so that most people can resume their usual activities in a few days. RFA is a safe, minimally invasive tool for local lung cancer control with negligible mortality, little morbidity, and short Medical Center stay.

For the RFA procedure, the Interventional Radiologist uses CT scan imaging to guide a small needle through the skin directly into the tumor. From the tip of the needle, radiofrequency energy (similar to microwaves) is transmitted to the tip of the needle, where it produces heat, resulting in controlled tumor destruction. The dead tumor tissue shrinks and slowly forms a scar. RFA is ideal for nonsurgical candidates, especially those with smaller tumors. The FDA has approved RFA for the treatment of tumors in soft tissue that includes the lung.

Efficacy
Depending on the size of the tumor, RFA can shrink or wipe out the tumor. Because it is a local treatment that does not harm much healthy tissue, RFA can be repeated if necessary to keep cancer under control.

By decreasing the size of a large mass, or treating new tumors in the lung as they arise, the pain and other debilitating symptoms caused by the tumors are often relieved. While the tumors themselves may not be painful, when they press against nerves or interfere with vital organs, they can cause pain. RFA is effective for small to medium-sized tumors and emerging new technologies should allow the treatment of larger cancers in the future. RFA is a new treatment that has shown early, promising results, but long-term studies have not yet been completed.

Benefits of Interventional Radiology and Radiofrequency Ablation:

  • Most effective for small localized lung cancer
  • Effective for primary lung cancer and tumors that have metastasized (spread) from other areas in the body to the lung
  • Usually does not require general anesthesia
  • Relatively low cost
  • Minimally Invasive and well tolerated. Most patients can resume their normal routine the next day and may feel tired for just a few days.
  • Can be repeated if necessary
  • May be combined with other treatment options, including chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Often, combined treatments improve overall treatment effectiveness.
  • Relieves pain and suffering for many cancer patients
  • Reduced complications and a shorter Medical Center stay compared with surgery

 

Interventional Radiology Treatments for Lung Cancer
Minimally invasive treatments to help patients extend or improve quality of life are being increasingly used in the care of patients with cancer. These specially trained physicians use X-rays, ultrasound or other imaging techniques to guide small tubes called catheters and miniature tools directly to the site of the disease. Interventional radiology procedures for patients with cancer include new approaches for treatment, relieving pain and diagnosing cancer without surgical biopsy.

Lung Cancer
Normally, cells grow and divide to form new cells as the body needs them. When cells grow old, they die and new cells take their place. Sometimes this orderly process goes awry--that is, new cells form when the body does not need them, and old cells do not die when they should. These extra cells can form a mass of tissue, or tumor. Cancerous tumors are abnormal and divide without control or order.

As vascular experts, interventional radiologists are uniquely skilled in using the vascular system to deliver targeted cancer treatments via catheter throughout the body. The lung is the most common site for primary cancer worldwide, and smoking tobacco is the leading risk factor. The lung is also a common site of metastases for various malignancies. Metastases occur when a single tumor cell or clump of cells gain access to the blood stream or lymphatic system, travel to a new organ such as the lung, begin to multiply, and then regrow their vascular structure to obtain food.

Interventional radiologists can deliver treatments for lung cancer directly to the cancer without significant side effects or damage to nearby normal tissue. There are two main methods by which interventional radiologists can treat cancer.

The first is to use the vascular system to deliver chemotherapy medicine directly to the cancer's vascular supply. This limits damage and toxicity to the rest of the body while delivering the highest dose of the chemotherapy to the cancer.

The second method interventional radiologists use to treat cancer is to "cook" or "freeze" the cancer by sticking a small, energy-delivering needle directly into the cancer that heats or freezes the cancer without significant damage to nearby normal tissue.

Since these techniques are delivered at the cancer specifically, patients have fewer overall side effects making this especially useful in patients with other significant medical problems. According to the National Cancer Institute, "targeted cancer therapies will give doctors a better way to tailor cancer treatment."

Lung Cancer Symptoms

  • Coughing that doesn't go away
  • Persistent chest pain
  • Shortness of breath, wheezing
  • Coughing up blood
  • Hoarseness
  • Swelling of the face and neck
  • Loss of appetite and weight
  • Fatigue

Dr. John Rundback of the Interventional Institute at Holy Name Medical Center is pioneering the use of Radiofrequency Ablation for the treatment of lung cancer.

To make an appointment, call the Interventional Institute at Holy Name Medical Center:
  • Phone: 201-833-7268
  • Fax: 201-643-3077