Radiofrequency ablation (RFA) and Microwave Ablation (MWA) are non-surgical or minimally invasive techniques used in the treatment liver cancer. These treatments use image guidance techniques to place a needle into a liver tumor.
RFA uses heat to destroy cancer cells and uses imaging techniques such as ultrasound, CT or MRI to guide a needle-electrode into the cancerous tumor. Electric currents which are of high frequency are then passed through the electrode to ground pads placed on the body. This creates a focal heat around the electrode and destroys the cancer cells surrounding the electrode.
During the procedure the area is numbed with local anesthesia and a small needle is guided to the target area with the help of x-ray. Once the needle and electrode is placed, radiofrequency current is sent through the electrode which heats up the surrounding tissue.
MWA also uses imaging guidance such as ultrasound, CT or MRI to place a special needle-like probe into the tumor. While RFA uses electric currents, MWA uses microwaves to generate heat and destroy the tumor.
Both RFA and MFA aids in the treatment of many types of liver cancer. Liver cancer can be primary liver cancer or hepatocellular carcinoma or could be cancer that originates in any other part of the body and metastasized to the liver. Hepatocellular carcinoma or primary liver cancer is the fifth most common cancer.
RFA and MFA is effective in the treatment of tumors that are less than 1-1/2 inches in diameter and could be used as an alternative to surgical treatment.