Cancer Procedures and Treatment
Our Interventional Radiologists Excel in Tumor Ablation Cancer Treatment
Interventional radiologists are involved throughout the process with cancer patients. It begins by using mammogram, x-ray, CT scan, or ultrasound to identify the cancer. We perform minimally-invasive needle biopsies to obtain tissue samples in order to diagnose the cancer. Under ultrasound or x-ray guidance, we also place long-term IV access devices such as mediports, port-a-caths, or other types of catheters that are used for chemotherapy. Direct treatment of the tumor by different types of tumor ablation methods such as chemoembolization, cryoablation, or radio frequency ablation are performed by interventional radiologists.
Needle biopsy, or image-guided biopsy, is usually performed using a moving x-ray technique (fluoroscopy) computed tomography (CT), ultrasound or magnetic resonance (MR) to guide the procedure. In many cases, needle biopsies are performed with the aid of equipment that creates a computer-generated image and allows radiologists to see an area inside the body from various angles. Needle biopsy is typically an outpatient procedure with very infrequent complications; less than one percent of patients develop bleeding or infection. In about 90 percent of patients, needle biopsy provides enough tissue for the pathologist to determine the cause of the abnormality.
Advantages of a needle biopsy:
- Image guidance allows for visibility of vital organs and blood vessels to protect them from getting damaged during the biopsy procedure
- Patient experiences less scarring, pain and complications compared to a surgical biopsy
- Recovery time is shorter so patients can get back to normal activities sooner compared to surgical options
Central Venous Access Catheter
Our team of vascular specialists and interventional radiologists specialize in the precise placement of central venous access catheters. A central venous access catheter (CVA) is a tube that is inserted beneath the skin to provide a simple, pain-free way for doctors or nurses to draw blood, give medication or nutrients. With the placement of a CVA catheter the patient is spared the irritation and discomfort of repeated needle sticks. More than 3.4 million catheters are placed each year, and doctors increasingly recommend their use.
There are several types of CVA catheters including:
- Tunneled catheters
- Peripherally inserted central catheters (also called PICC lines)
- Dialysis catheters
- Implantable ports, which are most used for chemotherapy
Doctors often recommend such catheters for patients who regularly have:
- Chemotherapy treatments
- Infusions of antibiotics or other medications
- Nutritional supplements
The Vascular and Interventional Specialists of Prescott are well-known and skilled vein doctors, who are part of a trusted medical group to provide this minimally-invasive procedure in an efficient and caring manner.
Cancer Treatment Options
Radiofrequency ablation (RFA) offers a nonsurgical, localized treatment for cancer that kills the tumor cells with heat, while sparing nearby healthy tissue. This treatment is much easier on the patient than systemic therapy. Radiofrequency energy can be given without affecting the patient’s overall health and most people can resume their usual activities in a few days. It is a safe, minimally invasive tool for local tumor control with low risk, a shorter hospital stay and quicker recovery time. In this procedure, the interventional radiologist guides a small needle through the skin into the tumor. From the tip of the needle, radiofrequency energy is transmitted to the tip of the needle where it produces heat in the tissues. The dead tumor tissue shrinks and slowly forms a scar. It is ideal for nonsurgical candidates and those with smaller tumors. This type of treatment is for tumors in the soft tissue of the lung, liver, kidney and breast. Depending on the size of the tumor, RFA can shrink or kill the tumor. As a local treatment, RFA does not harm the surrounding healthy tissue and can be repeated as often as needed to keep patients comfortable. It is a relatively safe procedure with low complication rates.
RFA Used to Relieve Pain, Pressure and Discomfort
By decreasing the size of a large mass or treating new tumors as they arise, the pain and other debilitating symptoms caused by the tumors are often relieved. This method is effective in shrinking tumors that are causing pressure in other areas in the body, causing nerve pain or are interfering with vital organs. RFA works for small to medium-sized tumors and emerging new technologies should allow the treatment of larger cancers in the future.
Here is some important information about RFA:
- Most effective when all the cancer is localized in the affected organ
- Can be used to treat primary tumors that have metastasized (spread)
- Usually does not require general anesthesia
- Relatively low cost
- Most patients can resume their normal routine the next day and may feel tired for a few days
- Can be repeated if necessary
- May be combined with other treatment options
- Relieves pain and suffering for many cancer patients
- Short hospital stay
- Few complications
Cryoablation is another tumor ablation method similar to radiofrequency ablation where the energy is delivered directly into the tumor by a probe inserted through the skin. The difference with cryoablation is that it uses an extremely cold gas to kill the tumor opposed to the heat that is used in radiofrequency ablation. Through technological advancements, patients no longer require surgery to receive this treatment. Interventional radiologists can now administer this treatment using a smaller needle to penetrate the skin. The “ice ball” that is created around the needle grows in size and destroys the frozen tumor cells. This technique has been used to effectively destroy cancer cells in the liver, breast, bone, lung and kidney tumors. Cryoablation and radiofrequency ablation cancer treatment methods provide much relief to patients. These methods are nonsurgical and require much less recovery time, plus cost significantly less than surgical procedures. The benefits and potential complications are similar to those seen with RFA. The physicians at Vascular and Interventional Specialists of Prescott are well trained and experienced with both treatment methods.
Chemoembolization is a minimally invasive treatment for liver cancer that can be used when there is too much tumor to treat with radiofrequency ablation (RFA), when the tumor is in a location that cannot be treated with RFA, or in combination with RFA or other treatments. Chemoembolization is the method of depriving a tumor of any blood supply so it can no longer survive, causing it to shrink. This cancer treatment works by delivering a high dose of chemotherapy, a cancer-killing drug, directly to the organ in order to embolize the arteries that feed the tumor. Using imaging for guidance, the interventional radiologist threads a tiny catheter up the femoral artery in the groin into the blood vessels supplying the tumor. The embolic agents keep the chemotherapy drug in the tumor by blocking the flow to other areas of the body. This allows for a higher dose of chemotherapy drug to be used because less of the drug is able to circulate to the healthy cells in the body. Chemoembolization usually involves a hospital stay of two to four days. Patients typically have lower than normal energy levels for about a month afterwards. Chemoembolization is a palliative, not curative, treatment. Chemoembolization has shown promising early results with some types of metastatic tumors.
Radioembolization is very similar to chemoembolization but with the use of radioactive microspheres. This therapy is used to treat both primary and metastatic liver tumors. In this treatment, the radioactive isotope Yttrium-90 is placed into embolic spheres to deliver radiation directly into the tumor via a catheter. The catheter is inserted into the femoral artery at the groin and is moved directly into the artery supplying the tumor. The spheres become lodged within the tumor vessels where they exert their local radiation that causes cell death. This technique allows for a higher, local dose of radiation to be used without subjecting healthy tissue in the body to the radiation. The Yttrium-90 radiates from within and since it is administered in the hepatic artery, it can be viewed as “internal” radiation. Radioembolization is a palliative, not curative, treatment it can help patients extend and enjoy a better quality of life. It is performed as an outpatient treatment. There are fewer side effects from this treatment compared to standard cancer treatments.
Trust Our Physicians to Provide Effective and Safer Cancer Treatments
Our vascular specialists and interventional radiologists are experts to deliver the best cancer therapies to our patients. These cancer treatments are less intrusive and less debilitating as traditional cancer treatments and surgical procedures.
Work with the experts at Vascular & Interventional Specialists of Prescott for elite cancer care.