Most people are familiar with diagnostic radiology procedures like X-rays, CT scans, and MRIs. When these image-based techniques are used to guide a minimally invasive procedure intended to diagnose or treat a condition, it’s called interventional radiology. For patients with cancer, this approach – often referred to as interventional oncology – can mean a wider range of treatment options targeted to their unique needs.
“We see interventional oncology as the fourth pillar of multidisciplinary cancer treatment, joining the ranks of surgery, medical oncology, and radiation oncology,” says Michael D’Angelo, MD, a board-certified interventional radiologist on staff at CentraState. “These procedures are minimally invasive and nonsurgical, and they provide more ammunition in the fight against cancer.”
CentraState is one of the few hospitals in the region to offer the following interventional oncology techniques. In each case, image-based guidance pinpoints the precise location and access point of a tumor to provide targeted treatment while sparing normal tissue.
Radioembolization. This procedure now is being used in patients with liver cancer or when certain other cancers have spread to the liver. Using real-time X-ray guidance, tiny resin beads coated with the radioactive isotope yttrium-90 (Y-90) are placed in the hepatic artery of the liver using a catheter inserted through a small nick in the skin. The beads deliver a high dose of radiation to the tumor.
“The liver is ideal for this type of treatment because the hepatic artery where we infuse the beads predominantly supplies blood to the cancer in the liver,” says Dr. D’Angelo. “For patients who previously had limited treatment options, radioembolization can provide a longer life, a bridge to a liver transplant, or even a cure.”
Radiofrequency ablation. In this procedure, an interventional radiologist uses CT, ultrasound, or MRI to guide a needle-like probe into a tumor. Radiofrequency waves create heat around an electrode at the tip of the needle, which destroys the cancer cells. This technique is being used to treat certain lung, liver, kidney, and bone cancers.
Cryoablation. Similar to radiofrequency ablation, cryoablation involves inserting a probe into a tumor using CT, ultrasound, or MRI guidance. However, instead of using heat, the cancer cells are destroyed by freezing them with liquid nitrogen or argon gas.
“Both radiofrequency ablation and cryoablation are elegant but simple approaches that generally involve one appointment,” says Dr. D’Angelo. “Following each procedure, the dead cancer cells are slowly absorbed by the body. We’re seeing great outcomes in the patients we’ve treated.”