The Interventional Radiologists at MRA specialize in cutting-edge cancer treatments, including percutaneous ablation, embolization, Y-90 radioembolization, and TACE.
What role does Interventional Radiology play in cancer care?
A cancer diagnosis is one of the most distressing things any of us will experience over a lifetime. It is essential to have a strong, multispecialty team beside you during every step of your treatment. The Interventional Radiologists of MRA are an integral part of that team, aiding in diagnosing and treating many cancer types. We specialize in the full spectrum of minimally invasive cancer procedures, also known as interventional oncology, which is described in more detail below.
Diagnosing cancer often involves a tissue biopsy, in which a very small piece of the tumor is sampled. Using advanced imaging techniques and a thorough knowledge of anatomy, our radiologists perform biopsies from head-to-toe, using a small needle placed through the skin.
We recognize the anxiety that can come with a cancer diagnosis. Our team strives to provide the most seamless and stress-free experience possible during the pre-procedure process, on the day of, and in the post-procedure period. Our considerable experience aids this in performing a wide range of biopsies.
Percutaneous ablation is a targeted, highly effective, minimally invasive cancer treatment that involves freezing or burning cancer cells to lethal temperatures. It involves placing one or more needles through the skin and into the tumor, guided using real-time ultrasound or CT. Once the needles are in position, they emit targeted energy (in the form of ice or heat) which destroys the tumor with minimal damage to surrounding normal tissues. For certain types and sizes of tumors, many studies have shown it to be just as effective as surgery at eliminating cancer. In addition, ablation is substantially less invasive than surgery. Ablation is generally performed as an outpatient procedure (no hospital stay) or with a 1-day hospital stay for monitoring. Because it is less invasive, there is usually much less discomfort and a shorter recovery time than surgery.
The most common tumors treated with percutaneous ablation are:
- Renal Cell Carcinoma
- Liver Cancer (Hepatocellular Carcinoma, Metastatic disease, Cholangiocarcinoma)
- Sarcoma/Desmoid/Soft-tissue tumors
- Lung cancer
- Breast cancer
- Thyroid cancer
Embolization is the injection of tiny particles into the specific blood vessels supplying the tumor. It begins by introducing a thin, flexible tube (catheter) into the blood vessels through an incision in the skin (either the wrist or groin) the size of a pencil tip. Real-time x-ray imaging guides the catheter to the tumor-feeding arteries while sparing the body’s normal arteries. Depending on the tumor type and goal of the procedure, particles are injected which are specifically designed to either take away the blood supply to the tumor, deliver concentrated chemotherapy, or deliver localized radiation therapy. Embolization is generally performed as an outpatient procedure (no hospital stay) or with a 1-day hospital stay for monitoring. Because it is less invasive, there is usually much less discomfort and a shorter recovery time than surgery.
The most common tumors treated with embolization are:
- Liver Cancer (Hepatocellular Carcinoma, Metastasis, Cholangiocarcinoma)
- Renal Cell Carcinoma
- Sarcoma/Desmoid/Soft-tissue tumors
Radioembolization is a procedure in which small radioactive particles are used to destroy tumors. It begins by introducing a catheter (a thin, flexible tube) into the blood vessels through an incision in the skin the size of a pencil tip (in either the groin or the wrist). Live imaging (X-ray or CT) guides the catheter to the tumor-feeding arteries, where the radioactive particles are injected. These concentrate a high dose of radiation within the tumor to kill it while sparing the surrounding tissues. This treatment is commonly known as Y-90 because it utilizes a radioactive element called yttrium-90.
TACE is a procedure in which tiny particles containing chemotherapy are used to treat tumors in a targeted fashion. It begins by introducing a catheter (a thin, flexible tube) into the blood vessels through an incision in the skin the size of a pencil tip (in either the groin or the wrist). Live imaging (X-ray or CT) guides the catheter to the tumor-feeding arteries, where the particles are injected. These drug-infused particles lodge within the substance of the tumor, killing tumor cells with high doses of chemotherapy and blocking the tumor’s blood supply. Because the chemotherapy stays within the cancer, the body is spared from most of the toxic side effects typically seen with chemotherapy.
Frequently Asked Questions
You may be a candidate for one or more of these treatments, but each case is different. The appropriate treatment depends on the type of cancer, the stage, and many patient-specific factors. Our Interventional Radiologists always consult with a multidisciplinary team of specialists to determine the best option. This is because the treatment type and order are essential in achieving the best possible outcome.
Generally, no. The level of sedation we provide for our cancer treatment patients varies depending on each patient’s overall health, the diagnosis, and the planned treatment. The most common methods are:
Moderate sedation: Medications are administered through an IV (intravenous) line, which results in a state of relaxation. You will be able to communicate and breathe on your own but may sleep through most of the procedure and may not remember much. This is how most of our patients are treated.
Deep sedation: With the help of an anesthesiologist, medications are administered, resulting in a deep state of unconsciousness. Patients will have no memory of the procedure. Advanced monitoring is required to perform this safely, and an oxygen mask may be necessary to assist you with breathing.
General Anesthesia: An anesthesiologist administers medications that result in loss of consciousness, a breathing tube is placed, and advanced monitoring techniques are utilized to ensure safety.
Typically, yes. The minimally invasive treatments used for cancer therapy are generally covered in full. However, you should check with your insurance provider about copays or deductibles you might be required to pay.
Request a consultation today:
One of our expert Interventional Radiologists will personally review your imaging and case with you and help develop a treatment plan that is right for you. Please note, that a referral for cancer patients must be placed by the health care professional overseeing your cancer care.
Patients, please note that services may require a referral from your primary care or another provider, but we can help facilitate that process if treatment is deemed necessary. Telehealth consultations may be available depending on the type of procedure required.