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Ablation Therapy

Patient Care > Treatments > Surgery

Ablation Therapy

Ablation therapy involves using heat or cold to destroy cancerous tumours without requiring invasive surgery. Ablation treatments are delivered directly to the tumour using special probes. A surgeon uses computer imaging to guide the probes to the correct position and monitor treatment progress.

Ablative therapy has several advantages:

There are several advantages to ablative therapy. Compared to surgery or radiation therapy, it is less painful and requires a shorter recovery period. As a matter of fact, it usually does not require an overnight stay in the hospital. Additionally, it can be used in conjunction with other cancer treatments.

Ablative therapy types:

  • Cryoablation

    The cryoablation procedure is also known as cryotherapy or cryosurgery. During the procedure, a special probe is inserted into the tumour and cooled to temperatures well below freezing. An ice ball forms at the tip of the probe, freezing and destroying the cancerous tissue. Cryotherapy is less invasive than surgery and can sometimes be performed as an outpatient procedure. Currently, cryotherapy is used to treat prostate and kidney cancers.

    A significant disadvantage of using cryotherapy to treat prostate cancer is that most men (about 80%) will lose the ability to have an erection. In contrast, cryotherapy is an effective and convenient treatment for prostate cancer in men with erectile dysfunction. As part of its research program, researchers are investigating the possibility of focusing cryotherapy on treating only the tumour rather than the entire prostate. This will preserve the function of the erectile organ.

  • Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA)

    Through a needle-thin probe, radiofrequency waves are delivered directly to the tumour, causing it to be heated to destruction. Small, localised tumours are best treated with radiofrequency ablation. A variety of cancers can be treated with RFA:

    • In the case of bone cancer, RFA is primarily used to relieve pain caused by cancer that has spread to the bones, usually from the colon
    • A combination of radiofrequency ablation and local chemotherapy can be used to treat liver cancer
    • Lung cancer
    • Kidney cancer