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Breast cancer is one of our country’s biggest health care problems. A woman is diagnosed with breast cancer in America every three minutes, and at least one woman (and a surprising number of men) dies of the disease every 13 minutes. Traditional breast cancer treatments such as surgery, systemic chemotherapy, and radiation therapy have reduced the overall number of breast cancer deaths, but these invasive treatments have limitations (not everyone is a candidate for them) and often come with terrible side effects.

The relatively new medical specialty called interventional radiology (IR) allows doctors trained in IR techniques to diagnose and treat diseases using minimally-invasive procedures that produce lower risk, pain, and recovery time than invasive surgery. Interventional radiologists at the best cancer treatment center in Phoenix use advanced visualization technologies like X-ray fluoroscopy, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or computed tomography (CT) scans to guide the insertion of small catheters instead of making deep surgical incisions.

What are the advantages of minimally-invasive IR procedures?

Obviously, any procedure that allows doctors to directly treat cancer without exposing the patient to the scarring, pain, long recovery times, and mortality risk of open surgery is to be welcomed. But when treating cancer, IR techniques can also allow more directed treatment of tumors, using chemoembolization to cut off the tumor’s blood supply or using radiofrequency ablation (RFA) or high-intensity focused ultrasound to destroy the tumor itself. When it comes to the treatment of breast cancer, some IR treatments allow direct treatment of breast tumors in women who are not candidates for surgery.

IR procedures used for breast cancer diagnosis

Although there are many tests used to detect breast cancer, a final diagnosis cannot be made until a sample of the suspected tumor has been taken and examined by a pathologist. The IR technique of needle biopsy is being used more frequently these days, because X-ray, MRI, or CT scans can precisely direct the needle to the tumor while avoiding nearby structures, blood vessels, and nearby organs. The small needle also reduces pain and scarring, which is important because over 80% of all such biopsies turn out to be non-cancerous.

IR procedures used to treat breast cancer

For cancerous tumors, the IR procedure called radiofrequency ablation (RFA) provides a nonsurgical, localized treatment that can destroy the tumor cells using heat, while sparing healthy breast tissue. IR experts use visualization to guide a small needle directly into the tumor, where radiofrequency energy is used to kill the tumor cells. Cryoablation is similar to RFA, but uses extremely cold gas to freeze the tumors, and thus destroy them. Laser therapy can also be used to treat tumors of the breast.

What to do if you want to learn more

If you are currently fighting breast cancer, consider contacting our specialists at the best cancer center in Phoenix. Look over some of the more in-depth articles we’ve provided about the procedures we specialize in on our website at Or simply give us a call at 888-377-7122 and talk to the best interventional radiology doctors in Phoenix directly. We’ll be happy to answer any questions you might have.