Radiofrequency Ablation for Cancer

Radiofrequency ablation uses heat transmitted through a needle placed into a tumor to kill cancer cells in patients with certain types of cancers. Imaging techniques such as ultrasound, computed tomography (CT), or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) are used to help guide a needle into the tumor. High-frequency electrical currents are then passed through the needle, creating the heat that destroys the abnormal cells.

This approach is can be used alone, usually as an alternative for surgery, or in conjunction with other treatments, such as chemotherapy or radiation therapy.

At MD Anderson Cancer Center at Cooper, our physicians offer world-class cancer care and have extensive experience with radiofrequency ablation.

Understanding the procedure

Before the treatment begins, a person is placed under sedation or is given general anesthesia. The physician inserts a thin needle guided by computed tomography (CT), ultrasound, or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) through the skin and into the tumor. Electrical currents (radiofrequency energy) are delivered through the needle tip to heat and destroy the tumor.

For a large tumor, it may be necessary to reposition the needle into different parts of the tumor to ensure no tumor tissue is left behind. The dead cells eventually turn into scar tissue. At the end of the procedure, the needle will be removed.

In most cases, a tumor can be treated with one treatment session but it can be repeated. After treatment, a person may require an overnight stay in the hospital.

Contact Us

For an appointment with an MD Anderson Cooper cancer expert, please call 855.MDA.COOPER (855.632.2667).