Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA) for Non-invasive Tumor Removal
Hope for Previously Untreatable Tumors
Tumors can be challenging for patients and their physicians. However, there is new hope for many patients with tumors that were previously untreatable. In many cases, Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA) is an option that can be preferable to surgical excision. The procedure destroys tumors with radiofrequency waves, and offers advantages including:
- Non-surgical localized treatment
- No disruption to the patient’s overall health
- Spares tissue by destroying the tumor without excision
- Allows resumption of normal activities within a few days
- Can significantly extend and improve the quality of life in advanced cases such as secondary liver cancer
- No stitches are required, only a bandage
- Is typically an outpatient procedure
Since 2004, when Advanced Radiology Services began offering RFA, we have seen many cases where it has had a profoundly improved the outlook on patient lives. Conditions where RFA may be the best option include:
- Osteoid osteoma
- Small primary site tumors of the lungs, kidneys, adrenal glands and bones. In many cases this is the only treatment needed.
- Liver cancer, localized kidney cancer
Who Performs the Procedure
Our physicians who perform this treatment are doctors who completed medical school and then attended an additional 4 - 5 years of medical training in the field of interventional radiology. Their advanced subspecialist medical training provides the expertise to use imaging to guide this minimally invasive procedure. Interventional radiologists are also uniquely qualified to perform other procedures that involve less recovery time than traditional surgery.
How to Get Help
Patients my be referred to us from any site and are usually seen within a week and treated within two weeks. To see one of our doctors and determine if you are a candidate for RFA, you will need a referral from your physician. Advanced Radiology Services helps streamline RFA by coordinating with your primary care provider and the appropriate treatment location. Your physician may contact us at:
Grand Rapids, Lakeshore and Lansing area: 616.459.7225
Kalamazoo area: 269.341.6380, press #1
A Physician’s Perspective:
New Hope for Previously Untreatable Tumors
The genius of RFA is that rather than removing a tumor by cutting it out, it is destroyed by heating it from the inside. We insert a special needle-like RFA probe through a nick in the skin and use real time CT or ultrasound imaging to precisely guide the RFA probe into the tumor. The probe then delivers radiofrequency waves to heat up the tumor and destroy it. Afterwards, the tumor is reabsorbed by the body.
RFA treats patient with metastatic kidney cancer which spread to her ribs.
This approach is more gentle for the patient who may already be in a fragile condition. It spares them from the trauma of surgery and is minimally invasive. Depending on the circumstances we may even use local rather than general anesthesia which further reduces complications and difficulty for the patient.
There are many types of tumors that RFA is able to successfully treat ranging from benign osteoid osteoma bone tumors, to small primary site tumors, and even metastatic liver tumors. RFA is not for everyone, but for the appropriate patient, it can offer comfort or even a permanent life saving solution.
Only 30% of liver cancer patients in the United States are candidates for surgery, among those, up to 75% will have recurrent disease. We have had advanced secondary liver cancer patients that were told they had inoperable tumors and only six months to live. Through RFA and working with their oncologist, we have been able to add quality years to their lives. Some of these patients come in every six to 12 months to have their tumors removed and need no other intervening palliative care. Along with prolonging life, RFA eliminates the pain caused by tumors pressing on organs.
Osteoid osteoma is a benign bone tumor that causes debilitating bone pain. It typically afflicts young people and before RFA, the only treatment available was pain medications. For these patients, RFA is usually performed on an outpatient basis and provides nearly instant relief with a very high success rate and minimal complications.
Brian Fedeson, MD