Tumor ablation

What is Cancer Ablation?

 This is a minimally invasive surgical method to treat solid cancers (liver, kidney, bone, and lung) for people who have failed chemotherapy or radiotherapy or are not surgical candidates. Special probes are used to “burn” or “freeze” cancers without the usual surgery under the guidance of Computed Tomography (CT), Ultrasound (US) or Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) to direct and position the needlelike device/ probe that delivers the energy directly to the tumor to cause acute cellular necrosis. This requires only a tiny hole, usually less than 3 mm via which the probe is introduced.  When the probe is within the cancer it is attached to a generator which “burns” or “freezes” the cancer.

Radio-frequency (RF), microwave (MW), laser, and high-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) systems apply energy to heat the tissue to at least 60°C for maximum efficacy. Cryoablation systems cool the tissue to less than −40°C to cause tissue necrosis. Targeted tissues can be accessed percutaneously, laparoscopically or endoscopically.Each technique, although similar in purpose, has specific and optimal indications.The effectiveness of this technique in treating cancer depends on two things:

  1. The size of the tumor
  2. Its accessibility to the probes

In general, for cancers 3 cm or less and easily accessible percutaneously the aim is to completely kill the cancer. The larger the tumor the more difficult it is to achieve compete cancer death, therefore early treatment is crucial.

How is the procedure performed and what are the risks?

Most patients have this procedure without general anesthesia, only conscious sedation. More than 90% of patients are released from the hospital the day after the procedure. Possible complications depend on the organ treated and include bleeding, discomfort or pain. The rate of serious complications from this procedure is below 5%.

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