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Radiofrequency (RF) Tumor Ablation

Tumor ablation refers to the process where a tumor is destroyed without removing it from the body. They are generally performed on patients where the tumors are small or cannot be removed effectively. This treatment is often a good alternative to major surgery.

Radiofrequency (RF) tumor ablations may be performed using high-energy radio waves where a thin, needle-like probe is placed through the skin and into the tumor. Placement of the probe is guided by Computed Tomography (CT), Ultrasound (US) or Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) which is used to guide and position the needle probe into the tumor. The tip of the probe releases a high-frequency current that heats the tumor and destroys the cancer cells.

How well does it work?

The effectiveness of this new technique in treating cancer depends on two things:

  • The size of the tumor
  • Its accessibility to the probes

The larger the tumor, the more difficult it is to completely destroy the tumor, therefore early treatment is crucial. Having this procedure does not prevent patients from having other forms of treatment. Tumor ablation can be effective for reducing a tumor's size so that it can be treated more effectively by chemotherapy or radiation therapy, or to improve symptoms. 

Ablation is an effective treatment option for people who: 

  • Want to avoid conventional surgery
  • Are too ill to undergo surgery
  • Have a tumor that is too large to be removed surgically
  • Have a limited number of tumors that have metastasized (spread from other parts of their body)

  • We will contact you prior to your appointment to review medications you are currently taking, your medical history, potential risks and answer any of your questions.
  • Contact your provider before you stop taking any medication.
  • If you have films, reports or CD-ROMs of any MRI, CT or X-rays you have already had, please bring them to the appointment.
  • The use of sedation during your procedure is at the radiologist's discretion. If prescribed, detailed instructions will be given to you.
  • If sedated, you will need someone to drive you home and stay with you post-procedure due to the effects of the medications.
  • Women should always inform their provider or X-ray technologist if there is any possibility that they are pregnant or if they are breast-feeding.
  • Risks and post-procedures instructions will be discussed with you prior to your procedure. They will be dependent on your unique case and condition. 
  • Overall, you should plan on approximately one and a half hours of your time for this procedure from check-in until you leave the clinic.
  • Using X-ray guidance, our specialized radiologist will insert a thin needle and inject contrast solution. The contrast solution is designed to highlight your anatomy to make sure the tumor is precisely targeted.
  • A radiologist usually performs the procedure using a thin needle electrode placed inside the tumor.
  • Heat is then applied to the tumor via the electrode. This heat is designed to create a lesion, causing the tumor to become cauterized or burnt, effectively destroying the tumor from the inside.
  • This procedure could be repeated at other tumor sites that are to be targeted. 



NOTE: This procedure is not performed in all of our centers. Please contact the location or region nearest you for more information or to schedule an appointment. We are happy to help answer any questions you may have!