- Advanced Cancer
- What is advanced cancer?
- What is metastatic cancer?
- Can advanced or metastatic cancer be prevented?
- How is advanced cancer found?
- How is advanced cancer treated?
- Surgery for advanced cancer
- Ablative techniques for advanced cancer
- Radiation therapy for advanced cancer
- Drug treatment for advanced cancer
- Clinical trials
- Complementary and alternative therapies for advanced cancer
- Managing symptoms of advanced cancer, by location
- Managing general symptoms of advanced cancer
- What should you ask your doctor about advanced cancer?
- Coping with advanced cancer
- Sources of support
- Choices for palliative care
- Advance directives
- Additional resources for advanced cancer
- References: Advanced cancer
Ablative techniques for advanced cancer
Putting a needle or probe right into a tumor and using heat, cold, or a chemical to destroy it is called ablation. It’s used most often for cancer that has spread to the bone or liver, but may be used in other areas, too. It’s most often used when only a few tumors are causing problems.
A common type of ablation called radiofrequency ablation (RFA) uses a needle that carries an electric current. The tip of the needle is put into the tumor. Ultrasound or CT scans may be used to be sure the needle is in the right place. An electric current passed through the needle heats the tumor to destroy it. RFA is usually done while the patient is under general anesthesia (deeply asleep and not able to feel pain).
In another type of ablation, called cryoablation, a probe put into the tumor is used to freeze it, killing the cancer cells. Other methods may use alcohol to kill the cells or other ways to heat the tumor (such as laser-induced interstitial thermotherapy).
Ablation is discussed in more detail in our document, Liver Cancer.
Last Medical Review: 02/07/2014
Last Revised: 03/06/2014