Ablation uses extreme temperatures to destroy tumors or alleviate blockages and other symptoms. Ablative therapies include radiofrequency ablation, microwave ablation and cryotherapy.
Ablation procedures are minimally invasive treatments in which a thin, needle-like probe is inserted through the skin into a small tumor. The probe must be able to reach and access the tumor directly. Doctors use ultrasound, CT or MRI to guide the probe into the tumor. Once in place, the probe emits microwaves or high-energy radio waves through its tip to “heat” and kill the tumor. For cryoablation, cold gases (e.g., liquid nitrogen, argon) flow through the probe to form a ball of ice crystals at its tip to surround and “freeze” the tumor.
NanoKnife®, another type of ablation which uses electrical current instead of heat or cold, can also be used to destroy tumors.
Ablation may be a treatment option for patients who have tumors that are 3 centimeters or smaller, particularly in the lungs, liver, kidneys and bones.
Benefits of ablation may include:
- In most cases, it can be performed without open surgery.
- In some cases, it can be used to treat tumors when surgery is not an option.
- It can relieve pain and blockages.
- It requires a shorter hospital stay and recovery time compared to traditional surgical procedures.
- It can be repeated if new tumors develop.
- It can be used in conjunction with other cancer treatments.