The lung is the most common site for primary cancer worldwide, and smoking tobacco is the leading risk factor. The lung is also a common site of metastases from various other cancers. Metastases occur when a single tumor cell or clump of cells gain access to the blood stream or lymphatic system, travel to a new organ such as the lung, begin to multiply, and then regrow.
Interventional radiologists can deliver treatments for lung cancer directly to the cancer by “heating” or “freezing” the cancer, also known as radiofrequency ablation or cryoablation. Since these techniques are delivered at the cancer specifically, patients have fewer overall side effects making this especially useful in patients with other significant medical problems who are not candidates for surgery.
Bones are the third most common location where cancer cells spread and metastasize. Some bone metastases become painful because the tumor eats away at the bone, creating holes that make the bone thin and weak. If left untreated, bone metastases can eventually cause the bone to fracture–seriously affecting a patient’s quality of life.
For the most part, the goal of treating bone tumors is not curative, but rather palliative by reducing pain, preventing additional bone destruction, and improving function. In treating cancer patients with painful bone metastases, interventional radiologists also use radiofrequency ablation and cryoablation. Studies have demonstrated that RFA significantly reduced bone pain from metastatic disease in over 90 percent of patients who had failed or were not suitable candidates for conventional therapy. In these studies, there were only few patients who suffered any side effects or complications. Therefore, RFA was demonstrated to be safe and effective in selected patients. Alternatively, in a technique called transcatheter embolization, ARA interventional radiologists can inject tiny particles through a catheter and into the artery that supplies blood to the tumor. The particles cause clotting that decreases the tumor’s blood supply, reducing pain and decreasing the likelihood of bone fracture.
- May be performed under conscious sedation or general anesthesia
- Is well tolerated. Most patients can resume their normal routines the next day and may feel tired only for a few days.
- Can be repeated if necessary
- May be combined with other treatment options
- Can relieve pain and suffering for many cancer patients
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