Argon plasma coagulation (APC) is a form of electrosurgery used to treat tumors of the lung and esophagus, among others. It is also a non-invasive way to alleviate symptoms of cancer, such as excessive bleeding.
APC is often administered through a tube that is placed through a natural opening, also known as an endoscopic procedure. During APC, a jet of ionized argon gas is passed through a probe. Once the argon gas is sparked, or electrified, it turns into plasma. This plasma is sprayed toward the tumor, never touching the tumor itself. Since the plasma doesn’t contact the tumor directly, there is less bleeding of the tumor and surrounding tissue.
Some tumors that are too large cannot always be properly treated with radiation or surgery. In these instances, APC can be used to help de-bulk a tumor, making it easier to treat.
APC is also used in conjunction with other forms of surgery to coagulate (clot) blood near treated areas.