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Oncology (Williston Park). 2005 Oct;19(11 Suppl 4):12-21.

Radiofrequency ablation in lung cancer: promising results in safety and efficacy.

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David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles, USA.


Only about 15% of patients diagnosed with lung carcinoma each year are surgical candidates, either due to advanced disease or comorbidities. The past decade has seen the emergence of minimally invasive therapies using thermal energy sources: radiofrequency, cryoablation, focused ultrasound, laser, and microwave; radiofrequency ablation (RFA) is the best developed of these. Radiofrequency ablation is safe and technically highly successful in terms of initial ablation. Long-term local control or complete necrosis rates drop considerably when tumors are larger than 3 cm, although repeat ablations can be performed. Patients with lung metastases tend to fare better with RF lung ablation than those with primary lung carcinoma in terms of local control, but it is unclear if this is related to smaller tumor size at time of treatment, lesion size uniformity, and sphericity with lung metastases, or to differences in patterns of pathologic spread of disease. The effects of RFA on quality of life, particularly dyspnea and pain, as well as long-term outcome studies are generally lacking. Even so, the results regarding RF lung ablation are comparable to other therapies currently available, particularlyfor the conventionally unresectable or high-risk lung cancer population. With refinements in technology, patient selection, clinical applications, and methods of follow-up, RFA will continue to flourish as a potentially viable stand-alone or complementary therapy for both primary and secondary lung malignancies in standard and high-risk populations.

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