Radiofrequency thermal ablation seems effective for treatment of localized cancer

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – A review of the use of percutaneous radiofrequency thermal ablation (RFA) of localized tumors suggest that it is an effective addition to the arsenal of minimally invasive treatments.

In the January 15th issue of Cancer, Dr. Bradford J. Wood, of the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center, Bethesda, Maryland, and colleagues present data on the current status of image-guided tumor ablation therapy.

"Image-guided, local cancer treatment relies on the assumption that local disease control may improve survival," the authors note. "Recent developments in ablative techniques are being applied to patients with inoperable, small, or solitary liver tumors, recurrent metachronous hereditary renal cell carcinoma, and neoplasms in the bone, lung, breast, and adrenal gland."

The researchers explain that recent advances in RFA therapy have allowed the treatment of large tumor volumes with image-guided needle placement. This can be done percutaneously, laparoscopically, or during open surgery.

Complications of treatment, including bleeding, effusion, fever, and infection, are rare and can often be managed nonoperatively, according to the report.

"Currently, RFA is not a surgical substitute, and long-term followup data are pending; however, short-term results indicate that RFA can be utilized as a practical, safe, and effective treatment alternative for many cancer patients," Dr. Wood and colleagues conclude.

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