Minimally invasive ablation: a change of war on cancer

By Guo Yiming
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, August 26, 2017
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Zheng Jiasheng, head of the Center for Interventional Oncology and Liver Diseases, YouAn Hospital, Capital Medical University. [Photo by Yan Xiaoqing/]

Imagine if your physician could eradicate your tumor with a tiny little needle through a tiny little hole through your body instead of large incredible incisions – all with the same or even better results but quicker recovery and less discomfort than in traditional surgery, cancer treatment can become a much easier experience for patients.

Actually, this therapy, known as minimally invasive ablation, has already been a mature practice for liver tumor and other solid tumors treatment in Beijing YouAn Hospital, Capital Medical University, and several world-class cancer treatment centers.

By the use of imaging techniques through Computed Tomography (CT), Ultrasound (US) and Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), interventional instruments like the ablation applicator could be directed and guided to puncture into the tumor via a tiny hole, usually less than 3 millimeters, to eradicate or destroy malignant tumors without the usual surgery.

Minimally invasive ablation therapy encompasses surgical techniques that limit the size of incisions needed and so lessen wound healing time, associated pain, risk of infection, and at the same time less costly but with better precision, said Professor Zheng Jiasheng, head of the Center for Interventional Oncology and Liver Diseases, YouAn Hospital.

"Imaging techniques can serve as a 'navigator' to precisely target tumors during the whole procedure without injuring other body parts," Zheng said.

Unlike traditional opensurgery, the therapy does not require general anesthesia but can be performed with local anesthesia under Intravenous Sedation, he added.

The easier approach

With local anesthesia, physicians are able to talk with the patient to avoid uncomfortable reactions due to minor complications that may hurt nerves and internal organs, so that it can minimize the possibility of side effects.

Another advantage of the minimally invasive approach is that ablation enables the tumor to be in site inactive. And when the tumor proteins are exposed after it dies, it can hugely stimulate non-specific immunity and cellar immunity in one's body, something that the traditional open surgery cannot be achieved, the patient's immune system will create a specific antibody against tumor antigen when clearing up the necrotic tumor tissues, so as to further kill the tumors., explained Yuan Chunwang, associate chief physician at the center.

Radio frequency ablation, microwave ablation, cryo ablation, irreversible electroporation and other ablation techniques have wider application in cancer treatment when the tumor is so big or near major blood vessels or organs that is hard to get removed compared to other severely-traumatic surgeries.

Last year, Zheng's team completed a total of 6,638 minimally invasive surgeries, of which 1,386 used ablation techniques. The therapy enables physicians to eradicate tumors for patients suffering early-diagnosed liver cancer and lung cancer within several minutes while the whole procedure may only take half an hour to complete.

Besides less operation time, less cost and smaller incisions, ablation can better preserve human's tissue and organs, as well as physical and immunologic functions.

It not only applies in treatment of early stage tumors, but also proved effective in some highly evolved tumors, Zheng added.

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