What Are MIIPs? / Lung Cancer

How is lung cancer treated?

There are multiple ways to treat lung cancer depending on the type of lung cancer, how big it is, and how far it has spread in your body. Treatment for lung cancer may involve medicines (like chemotherapy through the vein), surgery, radiation therapy, or lung tumor ablation.

What is lung tumor ablation?

Lung tumor ablation is a minimally-invasive image-guided procedure (MIIP) to destroy the cancer without having to cut it out. Ablation can be an effective treatment option for patients who wish to avoid surgery or for whom surgery is not an option.

LUNG TUMOR ABLATION (using cryoablation)

Figure 1: Cryoablation wand freezing a tumor.

Figure 2: After numbing the skin, the doctor places the cryoablation wand in the lung tumor through a pinhole.

Figure 3: An ice ball forms around the ablation wand to destroy the tumor.

Figure 4: Over time, the dead tumor leaves a scar.

What is the ablation procedure like?

You will be positioned laying down on the bed of a CT scanner. Depending on the location of your tumor, you will either be on your back or on your stomach. You may be asked to rest your arms above your head, so tell your doctor if you have trouble with your shoulders.

After numbing the skin, the Interventional Radiologist or other MIIP specialist places a long thin wand through the skin of the chest and into the tumor in the lung. The wand then delivers heat or cold energy to destroy the tumor from the inside. The dead tumor will shrink and turn into a small scar over time. After a lung ablation, some patients can go home that same day and some just stay the night.

What will I feel during an ablation?

An ablation is performed using medicine to numb the skin so you do not feel pain during the procedure. You may be given medicine through your veins to help you relax, as well. Most patients nap through the procedure. After ablation, most patients feel fine or have minimal soreness at the spot where the wand was placed through the skin.

What are the risks of an ablation?

Major complications are uncommon. Sometimes the lung can deflate a little or partially collapse after an ablation. When this happen, the lung often gets better on its own. Rarely, it will require treatment with a tiny tube to suck the air out and inflate the lung. Some patients also have minor bleeding after the procedure. Bleeding can cause no symptoms or can cause the patient to cough up a little bit of blood-tinged mucus. Very rarely is treatment required to stop the bleeding. Your doctor will discuss all of the risks of this procedure with you beforehand. After an ablation, some patients may have symptoms related to destroying the tumor, including a few days of feeling tired, a low-grade fever and muscle aches.


Who should not have an ablation?

If you have severe lung disease, such as fibrosis or emphysema, ablation may be too risky. Some cancers are too big or too numerous to be treated successfully with ablation. Also, tumors that are in sensitive locations may not be safely treated with ablation. Patients with cancer that has spread outside of the lungs may not benefit from ablation, either.

Ask an Interventional Radiologist or other MIIP specialist if ablation is right for you.

For more information about lung tumor ablation:

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