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RF Ablation a Safe Alternative Option for Treating Lung Cancer

Lung cancer patients unable to undergo surgery have another safe and effective treatment option: radiofrequency (RF) ablation//, according to a new study.

The Brown Medical School and Rhode Island Hospital study showed that RF ablation used to treat early-stage, inoperable cancer resulted in outcomes that were equal to or better than those achieved through external beam radiation (EBT), a decades-old alternative to the surgical removal of cancerous tissue.

“In our study, RF ablation produced meaningful results in terms of both survival and tumor control,” said Damian E. Dupuy, M.D., director of tumor ablation at Rhode Island Hospital and professor of diagnostic imaging at Brown Medical School in Providence. “The best two-year survival rate for early-stage lung cancer using EBT is 51 percent, compared to 57 percent with ablation.”

Lung cancer is a leading cause of death in the United States. The National Cancer Institute estimates that in 2007, more than 213,000 Americans will be diagnosed with lung cancer and more than 160,000 deaths will result from the disease. Patients with primary lung cancer, in which cancerous cells first develop in the lung, often are of advanced age and have highly diseased lungs and impaired heart function, making them poor candidates for invasive surgery. The same conditions can also make it difficult for patients to be treated with EBT, which directs focused beams of radiation at a tumor to destroy the abnormal cells.

“Conventional EBT therapy involves 33 treatments over a six-week period and can often lead to side effects including radiation pneumonia and the permanent loss of lung tissue,” said Dr. Dupuy. “RF ablation, which uses high-frequency electrical currents to heat and destroy abnormal cells, is performed in a single day as an outpatient procedure, is minimally invasive and has few side effects.”

In his study, Dr. Dupuy and a research team evaluated the outcomes of 153
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