Guided Heat for Inoperable Lung Cancer
Procedure Called RF Ablation as Effective as Radiation for Some Patients, Study Reports
WebMD News Archive
March 27, 2007 -- A minimally invasive treatment that uses guided heat to
kill cancer cells shows promise as an alternative to radiation in patients with
inoperable, early-stage lung cancers.
Researchers say radiofrequency (RF) ablation may offer older, sicker
patients who are not good candidates for surgery an easier-to-tolerate
treatment than radiation.
That's their conclusion after a study looking at 153 lung cancer patients
with inoperable disease who were treated with RF ablation.
Of those with stage I disease, or early-stage cancer confined to the lung,
57% lived for at least two years following the treatment. Three-year survival
was 36% in the patients, who generally had other serious health problems such
as emphysema or heart disease.
“We showed that RF ablation can result in decent outcomes even in this very
frail and sick population,” Damian E. Dupuy, MD, tells WebMD.
RF ablation has been used in the United States for a decade, most often for
the treatment of patients with liver, kidney, colon, and bone cancers who are
not good candidates for other treatments.
The procedure involves positioning an image-guided needle within the tumor
to transmit mild, painless radiofrequency energy similar to microwave
heat. The aim is to kill tumor cells with heat while leaving surrounding
tissue relatively unharmed.
RF ablation is generally performed in a single day in an outpatient setting.
Conventional external beam radiation (EBT) involves as many as 33 treatments
delivered over six weeks.
"It is important for physicians to know that RF ablation is a treatment
option for their sickest and elderly patients," Dupuy says.
In the newly reported study, published in the April issue of
Radiology, Dupuy and colleagues used RF ablation to treat 116 patients
with primary lung cancers and 73 patients whose primary cancers had spread to a
The one, two, three, four, and five-year survival rates for patients with
stage I, non-small-cell lung cancers were 78%, 57%, 36%, 27%, and 27%,
The researchers say their outcomes compared favorably with those reported in
other studies of patients treated with radiation and may even show a survival
advantage for RF ablation.