Cancer is an insidious disease that is difficult to treat because it can appear in so many places in the body, and then, once established there, spread to other areas of the body through metastasis. So it often requires a team of medical specialists to treat cancer effectively – oncologists to diagnose the extent of the disease, surgical oncologists to remove tumors that are accessible, radiation oncologists to irradiate tumors to help destroy or shrink them, and pain management specialists to ensure the highest quality of life while fighting the disease.
Increasingly, among the most important members of any cancer-fighting medical team are its interventional radiologists. These specialists – especially the best interventional radiology doctors in Phoenix who created Comprehensive Interventional Care Centers – have spent many years becoming experts in the use of visualization technologies such as X-ray, fluoroscopy, ultrasound, computed tomography (CT), and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Diagnostic radiologists use these technologies to detect cancer, but interventional radiologists also use them to treat cancer, using minimally-invasive surgical procedures that have many advantages for the patient.
What are the advantages of interventional radiology (IR) cancer treatment?
In many cases, invasive surgery and systemic chemotherapy still present the best hope for a cure of many cancers. But any surgery that requires deep incisions and general anesthesia always introduces an element of risk for the patient, and systemic (intravenous) chemotherapy has a number of side effects.
Interventional radiology avoids these risks because of its minimally-invasive nature. Instead of accessing the areas to be operated on via incisions, IR specialists access them by inserting a tiny needle or catheter into a vein or artery and guiding it into place with visualization technology. Once in place, the catheter can be used to apply heat (via radiofrequency or laser energy), cold (cryotherapy), or chemicals (chemotherapy) directly to the tumors being treated. This has the advantage of isolating the effects of the chemotherapy or radiation to the area of the tumor itself, with little effect on surrounding tissues.
At the same time, IR procedures have many advantages for patients, because they can be treated as outpatients, often going home from the facility the same day. Also, when treating liver cancer in Phoenix with IR techniques, less recovery time is necessary, so it is possible to integrate IR treatment with other more traditional types of treatment.
If this is true, why aren’t all cancers treated with IR therapies?
Not all tumors are amenable to direct interventional radiology treatment. Also, as noted earlier, there are some cancers for which surgery or systemic chemotherapy present the best hope for a complete cure. However, even in these cases there are many instances in which IR treatments are used in conjunction with surgery and systemic chemotherapy to destroy small tumors, or to shrink large ones in preparation for surgery. So some of the best liver cancer doctors in Phoenix view this not as a “replacement” for other cancer therapies, but as “another tool in the treatment arsenal,” another way to give each cancer patient the best chance for a cure.
Working hand in hand with other specialists, Comprehensive Interventional Care Center’s interventional radiologists have helped to create the best cancer treatment center in Phoenix. If you are being treated for cancer, make sure your oncologist, surgeons, and other health care providers are familiar with our website and the specialized skillsets of our highly-trained physicians. Or call us directly at 888-377-7122 and we’ll do our best to answer any questions you might have about interventional radiology and the advantages it brings to cancer treatment.