Radiofrequency ablation (RFA) of cancer is a treatment which involves the placement of a needle probe into a small tumor (5-7 cm) and utilizing heat generated by RFA energy (not radiation) into the needle to destroy the tumor. Once the probe is inserted, prongs are opened for placement. A video demonstration of the procedure is available online at the American Cancer Ablation Center site.
RFA is the same type of energy used in electrosurgical cauterizing units.
The procedure is considered minimally invasive because while a physician must guide the needle into the body, utilizing imaging such as a CT or MRI, it is not as invasive as surgery. This makes the procedure an option for patients who are not candidates for surgery due to their condition or the location of the tumor or other reasons.
RFA is utilized to destroy tumors, debulk tumors and to decrease pain. Currently RFA is being used to treat liver tumors, lung tumors, kidney tumors, and to treat the pain associated with bone cancer by shrinking the tumor. The treatment is also recommended to assist with breast cancer lumpectomies.
Per the Mayo Clinic, advantages of utilizing RFA:
- Effective treatment for small cancers
- Minimally invasive, with no skin incision
- Minimal risk to patient
- Typically little or no pain
- Minimal hospital stay
- Can be repeated if new cancer appears
Pre procedure preparation includes blood work and general instructions for no food or drink or medications before the procedure. Post procedure usually includes up to a 24 hour hospital stay for observation. General post anesthesia instructions will be given.
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