Interventional Cancer Treatments
The field of interventional radiology holds great promise for advancing the science and practice of cancer treatment.
Interventional radiologists are uniquely skilled in using the vascular system as a pathway into previously inaccessible territory, attacking tumors in targeted fashion from inside the body without damaging other areas of the body.
Interventional radiology may be used to control the spread of cancer in some patients, provide localized treatment when surgery is too risky or tumors are inoperable, shrink large tumors so that surgical removal might be possible, reduce suffering, relieve pain, and improve life quality.
What are some current interventional cancer treatments?
Some current interventional cancer treatments you may have heard about include radiofrequency ablation, microwave ablation, chemoembolization, Y90 radioembolization and cryoablation.
In radiofrequency ablation, the interventional radiologist inserts a needle directly to the tumor site. The tip of the needle is used to insert tiny prongs into the tumor, through which radiofrequency energy is delivered with a the aim of “burning” cancerous cells. Similarly, microwave ablation uses a probe
Conversely, cryoblation involves the insertion of probes designed to “freeze” cancer cells.
In chemoembolization, the interventional radiologist simultaneously delivers, directly to the tumor, powerful chemotherapy agents to fight cancer and sand-like particles that embolize arteries (reducing blood flow to tumors and causing the tumors to shrink).
The interventional radiologist uses Y90 radioembolization, a potent radiation bead, to deliver a lethal dose directly to the liver tumor. This causes the tumors to shrink and helps control the spread of tumors in the liver.
Are there other interventional cancer treatments under study?
Interventional radiologists have a strong interest in pioneering new methods of cancer treatment. Some of the more promising procedures under study include magnetic chemotherapy, which uses magnets to pull chemotherapy drugs into tumors (reducing the drug’s negative effects on other parts of the body); irreversible electroporation (IRE), which uses short, but strong electrical fields to kill tumors; and various gene therapies aimed at improving the body’s ability to fight cancer.
How is interventional radiology assisting in relieving other negative affects of cancer?
In addition to the fight against the cancer itself, interventional radiologists are developing treatments to reduce pain, decrease bleeding, minimize obstruction of vital organs, and decrease blood clots and infections.