Radiofrequency ablation effective in treating advanced lung cancer

Radiofrequency ablation can ease pain, slow tumor growth, and even destroy tumors in patients with advanced lung cancer, a new study shows. ?We treated 12 patients with thoracic tumors using radiofreqency ablation, which is the use of extreme heat to treat tumors,? says Eric vanSonnenberg, MD, chief of radiology at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute and visiting professor at Harvard Medical School in Boston, and lead author of the study. The patients either had maximal applications of surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy or were unfit for these therapies anymore, Dr. vanSonnenberg says.

From Dana Farber Cancer Institute:Radiofrequency ablation effective in treating advanced lung cancer

Radiofrequency ablation can ease pain, slow tumor growth, and even destroy tumors in patients with advanced lung cancer, a new study shows.

?We treated 12 patients with thoracic tumors using radiofreqency ablation, which is the use of extreme heat to treat tumors,? says Eric vanSonnenberg, MD, chief of radiology at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute and visiting professor at Harvard Medical School in Boston, and lead author of the study. The patients either had maximal applications of surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy or were unfit for these therapies anymore, Dr. vanSonnenberg says. ?In nine of the patients, our goal was to destroy or slow the growth of their tumors; we also treated three patients to relieve their pain.? The patients have been followed for as long as two years. Ten of them are still alive, ?which is very encouraging since these patients were quite ill when we treated them,? says Dr. vanSonnenberg. ?Significant pain reduction was seen in the patients we treated for pain,? he adds.

Radiofrequency ablation of lung tumors is a very complex procedure, notes Dr. vanSonnenberg. ?Before the procedure, the patient goes through a series of CT and PET scans so we know the extent of disease, and we can be more precise in the treatment,? he says. ?At our facility, the patient undergoes general anesthesia during the procedure so he or she doesn?t feel any pain, and an anesthesiologist is in the room as part of the treatment team,? says Dr. vanSonnenberg.

?We use a variety of interventional radiology techniques to assist the ablation procedure. They include inserting fluid to move the lung so we can better access the tumor, temporarily collapsing a lung to more safely treat the tumor; simultaneous dual ablation to treat the primary tumor and spread of cancer to adjacent ribs, and we?ve used ablation to kill nerves near the tumor to alleviate the patient?s pain,? he says.

The actual radiofrequency ablation procedure takes between 15-40 minutes. ?The patient is kept in the hospital overnight for observation,? Dr. vanSonnenberg says. The complications from the procedure have been treatable, he adds. One patient had a small skin burn.

Currently, we use radiofrequency ablation when the other forms of treatment (surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy) haven?t worked, won?t work, or if the patient requests this treatment, Dr. vanSonnenberg says. A team of oncologists, thoracic surgeons, anesthesiologists, and interventional radiologists evaluates all patients and must concur for this treatment to be used, he says. Eventually, radiofrequency ablation will be part of the standard armamentarium and an option used to treat cancers, he predicts.

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Dr. vanSonnenberg will present his study May 8 during the American Roentgen Ray Society Annual Meeting in San Diego.

Contact: Keri J. Sperry (703) 858-4306
Danica Laub (703) 858-4332
Press Room: (619) 525-6536 (May 5-8)

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