Radiofrequency ablation and microwave ablation

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What is ablation?

Radiofrequency ablation (RFA) and microwave ablation (MWA) use heat to destroy cancer cells. 

When it is used?

Ablation treatments are used to treat early-stage lung, liver or kidney cancers for people who can’t have surgery or don’t want to have surgery. 

This treatment is easier on the body than surgery, but there is a slightly higher risk that some cancer cells may remain after treatment, so it would only be recommended if surgery isn’t an option for you.

They may also be used to relieve symptoms such as breathlessness if the tumour is blocking an airway.

Having ablation treatments

You’ll be given a local anaesthetic and sedation before treatment begins. In some cases, a general anaesthetic is used instead. 

Your doctor will place a small needle-like probe into the tumour through your skin. This is usually done using a CT scanner to make sure the probe is in the right place. You can also have ablation during surgery or during a laparoscopy. 

Radiowaves or microwaves are then passed down the probe into the tumour to heat and destroy the cancer cells. Treatment lasts from around 30 minutes to a couple of hours. 

After ablation

It is common for people to have some pain or discomfort and to feel tired after RFA or MWA. You will be given painkillers to take home. You’ll usually need to stay in hospital overnight for these treatments. RFA and MWA can be repeated if necessary.

These treatments are not available in every treatment centre.

For more information

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1800 200 700

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