Despite surgical advances, not all liver tumors can be removed completely through an operation. Some tumors are simply too large or widespread throughout the liver or have recurred after prior surgery. You may also have other health conditions that preclude you from undergoing liver surgery.
Ablation therapies can be a beneficial alternative, offering:
- a curative option
- extended survival
- improved quality of life
With ablation therapies, a surgeon or an interventional radiologist inserts a probe directly into the tumor or tumors. The probes use various energy sources such as radio waves, microwaves or electricity to generate heat high enough to kill the cancer cells. Or, the probes inject alcohol or deliver a freezing agent to kill cancer cells. These probes reach the tumor through tiny incisions (laparoscopic) or through the skin (percutaneous). Roswell Park offers the following ablation therapies for liver tumors:
- Microwave (MW) Ablation uses microwaves to generate the necessary heat.
- Radiofrequency Ablation uses radio waves to generate the necessary heat.
- NanoKnife Irreversible Electroporation (NanoKnife IRE) is a new ablation technology that uses high-voltage electrical energy to poke microscopic holes in the cancer cells, enhancing cell death -- without damaging the surrounding ducts and blood vessels. NanoKnife is very useful for treating small tumors in difficult-to-reach locations.
- Cryoablation uses cold to freeze and destroy the cancer cells.
- Percutaneous Ethanol (Alcohol) Injection delivers a toxic dose of alcohol to the cancer cells.