Tumor ablation refers to the process where a tumor is destroyed at a local level without removing it from the body. Tumor ablations are generally performed on patients where the tumors are small or cannot be removed effectively and these treatments are often good alternatives to major surgery. These procedures may produce survival rates equal to surgery in people with small tumors.
Tumor ablations may be performed using high energy radio waves where a thin, needle-like probe is placed through the skin and into the tumor. Placement of the probe is guided by ultrasound or CT scans. The tip of the probe releases a high-frequency current that heats the tumor and destroys the cancer cells. This procedure is called radiofrequency ablation.
In some cases, cryotherapy is used. This is a process where a metal probe is placed through the skin directly into the tumor. Very cold gasses are then passed through to probe to the tumor, freezing it and killing the cancer cells.
Common cancers for these techniques include cancers in the liver, kidney, and lung. The specialists at the VCU Department of Radiology are experts at these procedures and provide patients with the best quality of service and care.