Doctors turn up heat on tumors

November 29, 2010

The most common type of cancer on the list is lung cancer, with more than 222,000 new cases. In addition: 57,000 new cases of kidney cancer were diagnosed, as were 21,000 cases of liver cancer.

TREATMENT: There are various kinds of treatments for different kinds of cancers, but the most common treatments are still surgery, radiation and chemotherapy, and have been so for decades.

New types of treatment are being used more and more, but these three modes of treatment are the most prevalent, no matter what kind of cancer is being treated. Sometimes only one of these types is used, and other times, depending on the type and stage of the cancer, numerous modes of treatment are used.

BURNING TUMOR: Radiofrequency ablation, sometimes referred to as RFA, is a minimally invasive treatment for cancer. It is an image-guided technique that heats and destroys cancer cells.

Imaging techniques such as ultrasound, computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) are used to help guide a needle electrode into a cancerous tumor. High-frequency electrical currents are then passed through the electrode, creating heat that destroys the abnormal cells.

The two most common types of cancer treated with this procedure are liver and colon cancer. (Source:

PROCEDURE: It works by passing electrical currents in the range of radiofrequency waves between the needle electrode and the grounding pads placed on the patient's skin. These currents create heat around the electrode, which when directed into the tumor, heats and destroys the cancer cells.

At the same time, heat from radiofrequency energy closes small blood vessels and lessens the risk of bleeding. The dead tumor cells are gradually replaced by scar tissue that shrinks over time. Pain immediately following radiofrequency ablation can be controlled by pain medication given through your IV or by injection. (Source: Mayo Clinic)

RECOVERY: Afterward, any mild discomfort you experience can be controlled by oral pain medications. Patients may feel nauseous, but this can also be relieved by medication. You will remain in the recovery room until you are completely awake and ready to return home. You should be able to resume your usual activities within a few days. Only about ten percent of patients will still have pain a week following radiofrequency ablation. (Source:


Nilou Salimpour
Cedars-Sinai Medical Center

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