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Targeting tumors

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http://www1.whdh.com/features/articles/ ... t/BO23182/

Air Date: 07/20/2006

There is some encouraging news tonight on the treatment of lung cancer. A minimally invasive procedure is shown to be so effective at zapping away tumors, it's prolonging the lives of patients far beyond what's currently expected.

After years of smoking cigarettes, 50-year-old Candi Harrah got a disturbing diagnosis: lung cancer.

"The gentleman who read the scans said basically you have three months to live, we will make you as comfortable as possible. I said there is no way, there is no way I accept that," Harrah said.

So Harrah had to have surgery, but she also had a minimally-invasive procedure called thermal ablation. It essentially zapped away Harrah 's tumor. Radio-frequency energy, which is similar to microwaves, is transmitted to the tip of a needle inserted into the tumor, killing it with heat.

Dr. Virginia Litle, of Mt. Sinai Medical Center, said, that immediately after the radio-frequency ablation, "we see the cystic cavity within the tumor, then you go three months later and it's just a cavity."

A new study just released shows that among patients with non small cell lung cancer who were treated with thermal ablation, along with radiation therapy, more than half survived to three and a half years…two years beyond the average life expectancy.

Harrah believes it's helping her beat the odds.

"I got to see my forth granddaughter born. I am not planning on checking out anytime soon," Harrah said.

Around a third of lung cancer patients can't have an operation, either because of poor overall health status or because of poor lung function.

Minimally invasive procedures like thermal ablation can be a very good second line option for those patients.

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