Tumour Ablation

Tumour Ablation

Applications: Primary Liver Cancer (Hepatocellular Carcinoma); Primary Lung Cancer; Primary Renal Cancer; Primary Bone Cancer, Secondary Liver Cancer (Colon, Breast, GI tract, Neuroendocrine); Secondary Bone Cancer; Secondary Adrenal Cancer

Beacon Hospital Interventional Radiologists are also using interventional radiology techniques to apply heating, or substances such as acetic acid or ethanol directly into tumours as a means of killing cancer cells. This type of treatment, called tumour ablation, is a relatively new technology that is showing promising results for treating cancers of many different types.

Radiofrequency ablation (RFA) offers a nonsurgical, localised treatment that kills the target tissue with heat, while sparing the healthy tissue. Because of the localised nature of this treatment, RFA does not have any systemic side effects. Radiofrequency ablation can be performed without affecting the patient’s overall health and most people can resume their usual activities in a few days.

In this procedure, the Interventional Radiologist uses imaging to guide a small needle through the skin into the tumour. From the tip of the needle, radiofrequency energy is transmitted into the target tissue, where it produces heat and kills the tumour. Preliminary studies have demonstrated that RFA significantly reduced bone pain from metastatic disease in over 90 percent of patients who had failed or were not suitable candidates for conventional therapy. In these studies, there were only a few patients who suffered any side effects or complications. Therefore, RFA was demonstrated to be safe and effective in selected patients. A multicentre clinical trial is underway to further investigate the role of RFA in management of painful bone metastases.


Fig 1: Renal Tumour

Fig 2: RFA Procedure

Fig 3: Tumour Necrosis

During the procedure, using a CT scanner or ultrasound machine, a small needle-like device is inserted into the tumour through a tiny nick in the skin. The doctor watches this probe as the images are projected with the CT scanner or ultrasound machine onto a viewing screen so that the probe can be precisely guided into the tumour. The probe is then attached to an energy source that delivers heat (using radiofrequency, laser, or microwave energy) or freezing (a treatment called cryoablation), or a special needle (infusion needle) that allows the tumour to be injected with a tumour- destroying substance.