According to an article recently published in the journal Radiology, radiofrequency ablation (RFA) provides effective anticancer control for patients with lung cancer or patients with cancer that has spread to the lung from another site of origin.
Lung cancer remains the leading cause of cancer-related deaths annually in the United States. More people die every year from lung cancer than from colon cancer, prostate cancer, and breast cancer combined. The lung is also a common place for cancer that has originated elsewhere in the body to spread. This is referred to as lung metastasis.
Many patients with lung cancer or lung metastasis are not able to undergo the surgical removal of their cancer, either due to the extent to which it has spread, its anatomical location, and/or the patients’ overall health. Researchers continue to evaluate well-tolerated and effective treatments for these patients.
Radiofrequency ablation (RFA) is a minimally invasive technique that uses heat to destroy cancer cells. During RFA, an electrode is placed directly into the tumor; the procedure is guided by a CT scan, ultrasound, or laparoscopy. The electrode’s high frequency radio waves create intense heat, which destroys the cancer cells.
RFA is being explored in the treatment of several types of cancer, including lung, kidney, and liver cancers. Previous studies of RFA have most often focused on patients who are unable to tolerate surgery or those whose cancer is considered inoperable; however, studies evaluating RFA are now including more patients with lung cancer.
Researchers from France recently conducted a clinical trial to evaluate RFA among patients with inoperable lung cancer or inoperable lung metastasis. This trial included nine patients with inoperable cancer that originated in the lung and 51 patients with inoperable lung metastasis. Patients had five or fewer sites of cancer in the lung, and the cancers did not have a diameter larger than 40 millimeters. Follow-up of these patients was at least one year.
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- At 18 months, overall survival was 71%.
- At 18 months, cancer-free survival was 34%.
- Patients whose cancers had a diameter of 2 millimeters or less had improved outcomes compared to those with larger cancers.
- At 18 months, 93% of patients had not experienced cancer progression at the sites that underwent RFA.
- At two months following RFA, respiratory function had not been altered.
The researchers concluded that these results offer further evidence that RFA provides durable anticancer responses among patients with lung cancer or lung metastasis. The authors suggest that RFA in addition to other agents should be further evaluated in clinical trials, particularly since this group of patients has a poor outlook with standard therapies.
Reference: de Baere T, Palussiere J, Auperin A, et al. Midterm Local Efficacy and Survival after Radiofrequency Ablation of Lung Tumors with Minimum Follow-up of 1 Year: Prospective Evaluation. Radiology. 2006; 240:587-596.
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