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Mol Pharm. 2010 Dec 6;7(6):1880-98. doi: 10.1021/mp1001944. Epub 2010 Oct 7.

Tumor ablation and nanotechnology.

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Department of Biomedical Engineering, Lerner Research Institute, and Taussig Cancer Institute, Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, Ohio 44195, USA.


Next to surgical resection, tumor ablation is a commonly used intervention in the treatment of solid tumors. Tumor ablation methods include thermal therapies, photodynamic therapy, and reactive oxygen species (ROS) producing agents. Thermal therapies induce tumor cell death via thermal energy and include radiofrequency, microwave, high intensity focused ultrasound, and cryoablation. Photodynamic therapy and ROS producing agents cause increased oxidative stress in tumor cells leading to apoptosis. While these therapies are safe and viable alternatives when resection of malignancies is not feasible, they do have associated limitations that prevent their widespread use in clinical applications. To improve the efficacy of these treatments, nanoparticles are being studied in combination with nonsurgical ablation regimens. In addition to better thermal effect on tumor ablation, nanoparticles can deliver anticancer therapeutics that show a synergistic antitumor effect in the presence of heat and can also be imaged to achieve precision in therapy. Understanding the molecular mechanism of nanoparticle-mediated tumor ablation could further help engineer nanoparticles of appropriate composition and properties to synergize the ablation effect. This review aims to explore the various types of nonsurgical tumor ablation methods currently used in cancer treatment and potential improvements by nanotechnology applications.

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