Diseases and conditions

Cancer

What is cancer?

Cancer is a specific type of abnormal growth of tissue, known as a “malignant” tumor, which grows at a fast rate and can invade neighboring healthy tissue. Tumors can also be “benign,” which means they grow at a slower rate and do not spread to the nearby healthy tissue. But when they occur in the malignant form, they are known as cancers.  

A variety of factors contribute to development of cancer, including genetics, age, tobacco use and ethnic factors. A common method to determine whether a tumor is malignant is through tissue biopsy.

Treatment

Interventional radiologists are board-certified physicians who deliver minimally invasive treatments with less risk, less pain and less recovery time than traditional surgery to treat cancers. The minimally invasive treatments listed below are treatment options for people who are not candidates for surgical treatments, those who don’t want surgery and individuals whose cancer did not respond to cancer drugs.

  • Chemoembolization involves the delivery of cancer-killing medication through a catheter (a thin, flexible tube) directly to the affected organ, decreasing blood flow in the arteries that supply the cancer.
  • Selective Internal Radiation Therapy (SIRT), also known as Y-90, treats cancer through the injection of small spheres of radioactive substance into the blood vessels supplying the tumor. 
  • Cryoablation is a treatment option that destroys cancer cells by emitting extremely cold temperatures at the location of the tumor. 
  • Radiofrequency ablation is a form of thermal (heat) ablation (removal of tissue) that uses electric current, which is transformed into heat, to destroy the tumor. 
  • Microwave ablation is a thermal ablation technique that uses electromagnetic waves to destroy cancer cells.
  • Irreversible electroporation is the newest form of ablation and creates an electrical field at the cancer cells, causing them to die.
  • Palliative interventional radiology provides cancer patients with pain relief and symptom management when the patients enter into the terminal phase of their illness.

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Learn more about how IR can treat other diseases and conditions. 

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