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Radiofrequency ablation for cancer is a minimally invasive procedure that uses electrical energy and heat to destroy cancer cells.
The radiologist uses imaging tests to guide a thin needle through the skin or through an incision and into the cancer tissue. High-frequency energy passes through the needle and causes the surrounding tissue to heat up, killing the nearby cells.
Radiofrequency ablation is most commonly used to treat a spot of cancer that is causing problems such as pain or other discomfort, and is generally not used as the primary treatment for most cancers.
Radiofrequency ablation is sometimes used to treat cancers in the:
Radiofrequency ablation is typically considered a treatment option only if you’re not a good candidate for surgery for some reason — such as your overall health or the presence of many small tumors in an organ.
Radiofrequency ablation may also be an option for treating precancerous cells in the esophagus that are associated with Barrett’s esophagus. Radiofrequency ablation is one of several types of ablation therapy used to treat a wide range of conditions.
Possible side effects after ablation therapy include abdominal pain, infection in the liver, fever and abnormal liver tests. Serious complications are uncommon, but they are possible.