Treating tumors in the body may require surgery, however a variety of inoperable tumors of the lung, liver and kidneys may benefit from radiofrequency ablation (RFA). RFA allows medical providers to ablate or destroy tumors with high frequency electrical energy and offers patients an additional cancer treatment approach that can be combined with chemotherapy, radiation and other management techniques. Other ablative approaches include microwave ablation, cryosurgery (freezing), percutaneous ethanol injections, and laser destruction of tumors.
To destroy tumor cells with RFA, a small thin needle is inserted through the skin to the inside of a tumor using CT or ultrasound guidance for pinpoint accuracy. The high frequency waves travel through the needle – heating cancer cells inside the tumor – destroying them.
RFA is generally well tolerated and has few side effects or complications. The procedure may be completed more than once if need for complete destruction of a tumor. RFA is designed for use with tumors large enough to be visualized on CT or ultrasound. Smaller tumors or cancerous lesions cannot be treated, increasing the patient’s risk for cancer recurrence.