Oncologists – medical doctors who specialize in the treatment of cancer – treat most cancers with surgery, systemic chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or a combination of these treatments. The choice of treatment depends, of course, on the type and stage of the patient’s cancer. Surgical resection (removal) of tumors at present offers the best chance for a cure, but many tumors (especially those in the liver) are not candidates for surgery because the tumor is too large, or has grown and invaded major blood vessels or vital organs. Sometimes many small tumors are spread throughout the liver, which can also make surgery too risky or impractical. These concerns mean that up to 66% of patients with primary liver cancer and 90% of patients with secondary liver are not surgical candidates.
The minimally-invasive treatments provided by the best interventional radiology doctors in Phoenix thus have a strong place in the overall treatment of cancer. Even when surgery presents the best chances for a cure, IR treatments such as chemoembolization or tumor ablation may be employed to shrink tumors or stop their growth before surgery. Because systemic chemotherapy does not have a strong history of curing liver cancer when used as a standalone therapy, IR used in conjunction with other therapies can often improve the chances of a cure, as well as providing palliative relief and improving patients’ quality of life.
What types of interventional radiology therapies are used to treat cancer?
IR therapies are often a strong part of “liver-directed” therapies in which the tumors themselves are treated locally. Percutaneous ablation therapy, for example, is often used to treat small HCC (hepatocellular carcinoma) tumors by using CT or ultrasound scans to guide a catheter to the location of the tumor and then using heat (radiofrequency ablation), cold (cryoablation), or chemicals (percutaneous ethanol installation) to destroy them. Ablation is a good choice in these cases because it limits the treatment to the area of the tumors, sparing the rest of the liver. The minimally-invasive nature of the procedure is also easier on the patients, who can often go home the same day. Tumors of the liver can also be attacked directly via embolization, to deliver chemotherapy drugs directly to the tumor and/or to block blood flow to the tumors and shrink them by depriving them of oxygen and nutrients. For details on these procedures, see the Cancer Care section of our website, where we describe certain techniques.
IR therapies are also used to treat side effects of cancer
Another interventional radiology procedure called TIPSS (Transjugular Intrahepatic Porto-Systemic Shunt) is often used to treat portal hypertension, a condition that often afflicts patients with liver cancer. It is used to re-establish proper blood flow to the liver when it has become obstructed.
Pain management is often a big part of treating cancer as well, and several IR treatments provided by Comprehensive Interventional Care Centers have helped to make our facilities one of the best pain management centers in Phoenix. Minimally-invasive IR therapies can reduce patient pain by delivering epidural spinal injections, facet injections, and selective nerve root blocks, and a procedure called kyphoplasty can also help to reverse pain caused by cancer-caused bone degeneration.
Your interventional radiologist is an integral member of the team helping to fight your cancer
The interventional radiologists at Comprehensive Interventional Care Centers pride themselves on working closely with patients and their doctors. Together we determine the best and most effective treatments to fight your cancer, and then each of us provides our specialized treatments. So if you are being treated for cancer, make sure your oncologists, radiation oncologists, surgical oncologists, and other health care providers are familiar with our website at www.ciccenters.com and know what makes us one of the best cancer facilities in Phoenix.