Alternative Therapy for Inoperable Lung Tumors

Radiofrequency ablation works when chemo, radiation can't

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TUESDAY, Aug. 3, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- Radiofrequency ablation is safe and effective for treating people with inoperable lung cancer, says an Italian study in the August issue of the American Journal of Roentgenology.

The study included 18 people with inoperable lung tumors who were treated with radiofrequency ablation (RFA), which uses electrodes to heat and destroy abnormal tissue. Regular follow-up detected no relapse in 94 percent of the patients.

Many lung tumors are inoperable because patients have poor respiratory function or other serious health problems. Some of these tumors can be treated using radiotherapy or chemotherapy. However, radiotherapy can cause serious toxicity, and chemotherapy is not well-tolerated by some patients.

"Lung RFA can get around all those problems. It is minimally invasive, with only a small needle being inserted into the patient. It is also advantageous because of potentially low costs, short hospitalization times, and good patient tolerance without mortality," study author Dr. Cosmo Gadaleta said in a prepared statement.

In this study, there were some minor complications from RFA, including three patients who experienced pneumothorax, the abnormal presence of air in the pleural cavity resulting in lung collapse. All three cases were successfully treated with pleural drainage.

"We feel that lung RFA could become more prevalent, first for patients who are not candidates for surgery, but also as an alternative to surgery for operable lung tumors, as long as the tumor is not too large," Gadaleta said.

More information

The American Cancer Society has more about lung cancer.

SOURCE: American Roentgen Ray Society, news release, Aug. 1, 2004

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