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RSNA: Radiofrequency Ablation Provides Effective Local Control of Lung Cancer

By W. A. Thomasson, PhD

CHICAGO, IL -- December 4, 2003 -- Radiofrequency ablation provides a very high rate of local control in both primary lung tumours and pulmonary metastases, according to a study presented December 2nd at the Annual Meeting of the Radiological Society of North America.

The study was a cooperative effort by investigators in seven centres across Europe, Australia and the United States. Riccardo Lencioni, MD, University of Pisa, Italy, presented the study's findings.

The study encompassed 96 patients with 165 non-resectable tumours = 3.5 cm in size, either non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC, n = 31) or metastases from various primary locations (n = 65) for which local treatment was indicated. Thirteen of the NSCLC patients were in stage I, the others in more advanced stages. Since imaging cannot effectively distinguish living from destroyed tumour, ablation was considered complete if there was no evidence of growth following the initial post-therapy imaging.

In 68 patients who have had 6-month follow-up computed tomography (CT) examinations, 81 of 91 lesions appeared to have undergone complete ablation. Two lesions that appeared stable at 6 months, however, have shown regrowth at 12-month follow-up; this gives a 90% rate of local control among the 53 lesions that have been examined at that period.

Pneumothorax severe enough to require placement of a chest tube occurred in 15% of patients. Pleural effusion sufficient to require drainage was observed in 6 patients; there was also 1 case of atelectasis and one of pneumonia. The authors consider this an acceptable rate of morbidity.

Dr. Lencioni concluded that radiofrequency ablation "might prove a viable alternate or complementary treatment method for patients with NSCLC or metastases, especially [for] patients [who are] not surgical candidates."

[study Title: Percutaneous Radiofrequency Ablation of Pulmonary Malignancies: A Prospective Multicenter Clinical Trial. Abstract G02-546]

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