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Radiofrequency ablation, sometimes referred to as RFA, is a minimally invasive treatment for cancer. It is an image-guided technique that heats and destroys cancer cells. In radiofrequency ablation, imaging techniques such as ultrasound, computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) are used to help guide a needle electrode into a cancerous tumor. High-frequency electrical currents are then passed through the electrode, creating heat that destroys the abnormal cells.
What are some common uses of the procedure?
Radiofrequency ablation is used to treat many types of liver cancer. The two most common types are:
hepatocellular carcinoma, which is a primary liver cancer (meaning it begins in the liver).
colon cancer that metastasizes or spreads from the colon to the liver.
In general, radiofrequency ablation is most effective treating tumors that are less than one and a half inches in diameter. It may be used in addition to chemotherapy or radiation therapy or as an alternative to surgical treatment.
Radiofrequency ablation is a viable and effective treatment option if you:
are not a good candidate for surgery because your tumor is difficult to reach.
have other medical conditions that make surgery especially risky.
would not have enough liver tissue left for the organ to function adequately following the surgical removal of a tumor.
have liver tumors that have not responded to chemotherapy or that have recurred after being removed surgically.
you have several small liver tumors that are too spread out to be removed surgically.