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Ann Thorac Surg. 2008 Feb;85(2):S780-4. doi: 10.1016/j.athoracsur.2007.11.063.

Radiofrequency ablation to treat non-small cell lung cancer and pulmonary metastases.

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Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery, Boston Medical Center, Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts 02118, USA.


Radiofrequency ablation is being reported with increasing frequency for the treatment of lung tumors. Several studies have demonstrated that this is a feasible and safe approach. Intermediate outcomes are now becoming available. Although tumors up to 5 cm in size can be effectively treated with radiofrequency ablation, results are better for smaller tumors (3 cm or less). This review describes the techniques, available ablation devices, and the potential role of radiofrequency ablation for non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and pulmonary metastases. Resection (lobar or sublobar) should remain the standard therapy for NSCLC. Radiofrequency ablation may be better than conventional external-beam radiation for the treatment of the high-risk individual with NSCLC. Preliminary results for pulmonary metastases are similar to those reported after resection. In addition, patients with pulmonary metastases have been demonstrated to develop recurrences even after thoracotomy and bimanual palpation of the lung. Radiofrequency ablation may be an alternative to resection for the patient with small-diameter pulmonary metastases, and future study of this may be indicated.

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