Radiofrequency (RF) ablation effective for treating inoperable lung cancer

A minimally invasive procedure known as radiofrequency (RF) ablation is effective for treating lung cancer in patients who are not candidates for surgery, according to a Rhode Island Hospital study published in the April issue of the journal Radiology.

Damian Dupuy, MD, director of ablation at Rhode Island Hospital and professor of diagnostic imaging at The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, conducted a study of 153 patients who were treated for early-stage, inoperable lung cancer with RF ablation. The procedure involves using a specialized needle inserted through the skin to transmit high-frequency electrical currents into a tumor. The overall results of the study show RF ablation to be safe and linked it with promising long-term survival and local tumor progression outcomes when compared to the older treatment method of external beam radiation (EBT).

EBT, which has been used for decades, requires many treatments over a six-week period. This can often lead to a variety of side effects. RF ablation, however, is performed in a single day on an outpatient basis, is minimally invasive and has few side effects.

Dupuy says, "Our study has shown that this minimally invasive procedure can successfully treat patients with lung cancer who could not undergo surgery in one fairly simple treatment. The study also shows that radiofrequency ablation is equal to or more effective in terms of both survival and tumor control." With RF ablation, the Rhode Island Hospital researchers noted a two-year survival rate at 57 percent compared to 51 percent using EBT.

"With lung cancer screening for at-risk individuals on the horizon, we will be able to detect lung cancers at earlier stages. In my lifetime, I foresee image-guided radiofrequency ablation replacing many surgical procedures for the treatment of cancer as we continue to improve these minimally invasive treatment methods."

Other survival rates for stage I, non-small cell cancer treated with RF ablation were 78 percent for one year, 57 percent for two years, 36 percent for three years and 27 percent for both four and five years.

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