Jump to content

RFA to the Lungs


Recommended Posts

Hi Everyone- I'm trying to get my mom in a clinical trial here locally and praying that she is a candidate (I find out later today). Sutter Cancer Center is conducting Radiofrequency Ablation to the lungs. There was a huge article in the Sacramento Bee a few weeks ago concerning their trial and it sounds great. I thought I would share it with you all since it really seems like the up and coming thing. My mom is not a candidate for surgery, so this would be a great alternative. I was told that if the primary tumor can be irradicated, then it will not continue to spread. I went to Sutter Cancer Center to turn in my mothers xrays today and they were so nice and pleasant. It was refreshing. I'm sure this trial is probably being conducted elsewhere across the States.

Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA)

Radiofrequency ablation (RFA) is a localized thermal treatment option that is being utilized at Sutter Medical Center, Sacramento for the treatment of primary and metastatic tumors in the liver, lung, kidney, or other sites.

Gregory Graves M.D., a thoracic and oncologic surgeon, and Scott Foster M.D., an Interventional Radiologist, are the RFA team specialists who introduced this exciting new technology for lung cancer to Sacramento in 2001. More than 75 patients have been treated thus far and preliminary results were presented in February 2002 at the "13th International Congress on Anti-Cancer Treatment" in Paris, France. They presented an update at the same meeting a year later - their results continue to place them among the world leaders in lung RFA.

RFA is usually reserved for patients who cannot tolerate, or are not candidates for, standard therapy for primary or metastatic tumors. This is a cutting-edge, minimally invasive technique in which cancer is treated by application of intense heat through a small probe directly into the tumor(s).

Physician Profiles

Gregory M. Graves, M.D.

Scott Foster, M.D.

Questions on Radiofrequency Ablation (FAQ)

What is Radiofrequency Ablation?

Radiofrequency ablation (RFA) is the heating of tissue by passing of alternating electrical current through a tumor. This heat produces cellular destruction, resulting in death of the tumor.

What are the indications for Radiofrequency Ablation?

If surgery is not a good option for treatment of your tumor, RFA may be a good option if:

There are 4 or fewer tumors to treat

The tumor is not widely metastatic (spread throughout the body)

Each tumor is 4.5 cm in diameter or less

The tumor is not to close to a critical organ (such as the heart)

The tumor can be reached with available equipment

Is this an experimental procedure?

No, coagulation of soft tissue, using heat is a proven method that has been used for many years. The procedure does use a new technically advanced instrument that allows heat to be evenly distributed to the lesion in a consistent manner, causing targeted cell destruction. RFA is FDA-approved for treatment of soft tissue tumors.

How does it work?

Using traditional imaging (x-ray or ultrasound) methods an electrode is positioned within the tumor. Then, the electrode is connected to a radiofrequency generator and electrical current is delivered into the tumor.

Where is the procedure done?

Dr. Graves and Dr. Foster perform the procedure at Sutter General Hospital in Sacramento. Depending on a number of factors the procedure will be performed in the Operating Room or in the Radiology Department.

How long do I have to stay in the hospital?

The typical stay is overnight. However, depending on a number of factors, stays vary from a few hours to a few days.

What follow-up is there?

A member of our clinical team will contact you shortly after you are discharged from the hospital to confirm that your recovery is going as expected. Your physician will follow you through office visits, and imaging studies. Your first visit to your physician's office will usually be within a week of discharge. Your first imaging (x-ray) follow-up begins four to six weeks after your procedure, when you will get a CT scan, which will be compared to your pretreatment studies and will serve as a baseline for later follow-up.

What are the benefits?

The most obvious benefit is that major surgery can be avoided. Even with the best and most experienced surgeons, there are substantial risks to any major surgery. With RFA, the risks are much lower and the recovery time is much faster. Additionally, follow-up imaging and treatment may be easier after RFA.

What are the risks?

As with every procedure, there are risks. The risk of major complication due to RFA is 1-2%, with bleeding being the most common. Our center, however, has never had a major bleeding complication. There is also the risk of incomplete destruction of the tumor. The risk of this varies with the tumor, its size, and its location in the body. This will be discussed with you at the time of initial consultation.

Who does the procedure?

The Surgeon (Dr. Graves) and the Interventional Radiologist (Dr. Foster) will do the procedure, with the "physician in charge" depending both on the procedure, and the part of the procedure currently being performed.

What are the alternatives?

There are several alternatives:

Major surgery


Radiation Therapy

Other advanced minimally invasive procedures

A combination of any of those listed above with or without RFA

Do nothing

Since each patient is unique, a general guideline cannot be given. Your particular tumor will be discussed and reviewed with a panel of experts before our recommendation will be discussed with you.

How it Works

The equipment used is Boston Scientific RFA probes and GE CT scanners. Radiofrequency ablation uses a needle electrode and a radiofrequency generator that causes cell death of the abnormal lung or other organ tissue through thermal injury. The needle electrode is placed into the tumor, and the RF generator drives energy through each of the tines that extend from the electrode into the lung tissue. The device leads to tumor cell destruction by heating the tissue, thereby killing the tumor. The needle electrode is placed through the skin, under CT guidance, while the patient is under general anesthesia. The treatment site is carefully monitored using repeat CT and PET scans.

Contact Us

For more information contact the Clinic at (916) 454-6913, or via email at foranm@sutterhealth.org.

Click here for a map to Sutter Cancer Center, Sacramento.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 5 months later...

I had RFA in Janurary of 2002. It was done here in MIssissippi at the University of Mississippi Medical Center. Dr. Patrick Sewell is a world pioneer in the procedure. He has done both a RFA on my lung tumors and a cryo-ablation to my right ribs. He did the last procedure in one of the 3 Twin-Vertical Magnet MRI machines in the counrty. He is actually in the machine with you during the procedure and watches it on a monitor in "real time." I am now cancer free and pain free. Thank God for his many blessings. Of course, my cancer may return but he has extended the length of my life and improved the quality of my life. You can do a yahoo search of Dr. Patrick Sewell, and learn more about him and the procedure. There are risks ,and I did experience some some complicarions. But I would have it sone again tomorrow if I needed it. Good luck,


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Restore formatting

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use.