Radiofrequency Method Zaps Lung Tumors

Using a needle, doctors subject cancer to electrical currents

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TUESDAY, March 27, 2007 (HealthDay News) -- A minimally invasive procedure called radiofrequency (RF) ablation is an effective treatment for patients with inoperable lung cancer, U.S. researchers report.

In RF ablation, doctors insert a special needle that transmits high-frequency electrical currents into a tumor.

This study of 153 patients with early-stage, inoperable non-small cell lung cancer found that the two-year survival rate for patients who received RF ablation was 57 percent, compared with 51 percent for patients who received external beam radiation (EBT).

The team from Rhode Island Hospital, Providence, noted that EBT requires many treatments over a six-week period and often causes a number of side effects. In contrast, RF ablation is a single-day outpatient procedure that causes few side effects.

One year after treatment, the survival rate for patients who received RF ablation was 78 percent. At three years, it was 36 percent. At four and five years, it was 27 percent.

The findings are published in the April issue of the journal Radiology.

"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," Dr. Damian Dupuy, director of ablation at Rhode Island Hospital and professor of diagnostic imaging at The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, said in a prepared statement.

"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," Dupuy said.

More information

The American College of Radiology, Radiological Society of North America has more about RF ablation of lung tumors.

SOURCE: Rhode Island Hospital, news release, March 27, 2007

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