Radiofrequency ablation for cancer

About Liver Cancer

Liver cancer is the fifth most common cancer globally. The incidence of liver cancer has been increasing due to the rise in the prevalence of Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C. 

Early diagnosis is correlated with better outcomes. The best prognosis results from surgical resection and transplantation, though only 15%-20% of patients are eligible for surgery. The survival rate for successful resection is 50%.  

Radiofrequency ablation for cancer is an option for treating liver cancer in patients who are not good candidates for surgery. At Williams Cancer Institute, we are specialists in radiofrequency ablation for liver metastases. 

It is essential to know that it is a safe procedure. Doctors have been using radiofrequency ablation for the treatment of cancer for over 28 years. It is a minimally invasive procedure and effective whether cancer originated in the liver or metastasized. 


What You Should Know About Radiofrequency Ablation for Liver Cancer

The technique involves applying high-frequency electrical currents to liver cancer tumors. The resulting heat from liver tumor ablation leads to thermal coagulation, which shrinks or kills the tumor. The procedure may also be referred to as microwave ablation of liver tumors. 

Radiofrequency ablation for liver cancer is completed under the care of an oncologist. The doctor completes the procedure under anesthesia. A needle is inserted in the area that is to be treated. Through electrodes, the radiofrequency current is dispelled to the target area to destroy the cancer cells. 

The heat generated in radiofrequency ablation for liver metastases destroys cancer cells when guided to the tumor. The treatment does not harm large areas of healthy liver tissue as the tissue is more resistant to heat than cancer cells. Thus it is a promising treatment, successful in microwave ablation of liver tumors while leaving healthy tissue unharmed. 


A Study in Liver Tumor Ablation

Doctors at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York reviewed 110 patients that received ablation of colorectal liver metastases between November 2009 and April 2015. Six weeks after the procedure, the margins of the metastases were measured. 

The doctors compared different radiofrequency ablation types, thermal ablation (microwave ablation procedure), and ablation of colorectal liver metastases. They found that the complete ablation technique was 93% successful and 97% successful for the microwave version of it. The tumors were completely gone in these cases.

The doctors determined that success factors included metastases with 5 mm margins or less and perivascular tumors. A perivascular tumor is a rare type of tumor that can occur anywhere in the body. Where this tumor originates is not known at this time. Most commonly, they are found in the lungs or the kidneys.

Even the most extensive tumors (over 10mm) did not metastasize when the RFA ablation was done in the study. They concluded that regardless of the thermal ablation modality used, margins greater than 5 mm are critical for local tumor control, with no local tumor progression noted for margins over 10 mm. Unlike RF ablation, the efficiency of the microwave ablation procedure was not affected by perivascular tumors.

Note: If patients have liver cirrhosis along with a liver tumor, they aren’t a candidate for radiofrequency ablation for liver cancer. 

Radiofrequency ablation for cancerWhat Can I Expect After Radiofrequency Ablation for Liver Cancer

You may have some pain after the procedure. Doctors can successfully control the side effect with oral pain medication. Usually, the pain subsides one week after the microwave ablation of liver tumors. 

The oncologist will order a computed tomography (CT) scan or magnetic imaging resonance (MRI) exam about one week after the ablation treatment. The images will show the doctor how successful the treatment was in targeting the tumors. 

Additional scans may be necessary about four times a year to determine if new tumors have emerged and guide future treatments. 


Learn About Radiofrequency Ablation for Cancer at Williams Cancer Institute

Dr. Jason Williams’ approach combines interventional radiology expertise with a high level of knowledge about the science of immunology, cancer, and cancer immunotherapy.

If you are looking for the most advanced and efficient form of cancer treatment, consult with our oncologists.  

Do you have any more questions about liver cancer treatment and new experimental cancer treatment? Contact us at Williams Cancer Institute. 


The material contained on this site is for informational purposes only and DOES NOT CONSTITUTE THE PROVIDING OF MEDICAL ADVICE, and is not intended to be a substitute for independent professional medical judgment, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your health.