Cancer experts at Cleveland Clinic Florida offer patients a wide range of innovative options for cancer care. This includes radiofrequency ablation, or RFA. For patients, this procedure and the results seem to be the stuff of science fiction.
“We refer to it as ‘Band-aid surgery’ because the patient doesn’t even have an incision, so they go home with only a band-aid after the procedure” says Kevin Stadtlander, MD, Cleveland Clinic Florida interventional radiologist. “Using RFA, we’re able to treat and cure many patients, with a very short recovery time.”
Radiofrequency ablation is a way to burn and kill tumor cells. The technology is so exact that little tissue around the tumor is affected. It is most commonly used for kidney and liver tumors, but physicians also utilize it to treat bone, lung and many other types of cancer.
Though RFA is usually reserved for tumors less than three centimeters in size (a little over an inch), Dr. Stadtlander has been able to offer RFA to patients with tumors more than twice as large.
“I had a seven centimeter tumor on one kidney, and one doctor said I needed to have the entire kidney removed,” says Anthony Romano, 82, from Hallandale, FL. “But I wasn’t sure I was healthy enough for a major operation. So I went to Cleveland Clinic Florida for a second opinion, and I’m so very thankful that I did.”
Dr. Stadtlander treated him with two rounds of radiofrequency ablation. During the procedure, interventional radiologists use computer images created by CT scan or ultrasound, to guide a tiny needle and electrode to the site of the tumor. The electrode carries radiofrequency waves that heat the tumor cells, destroying them. Mr. Romano’s latest tests show he has no active tumor cells.
“So now, I no longer have cancer, and I still have both kidneys,” Mr. Romano says. “What’s even more amazing to me is that for both RFA procedures I never felt a thing —not one thing. I couldn’t even find the scar when I got home.”
In addition to helping many patients avoid surgery, RFA might be the only treatment for those who cannot have surgery because of other health issues or for those who have tumors that are hard to reach.
“Many patients like Mr. Romano are actively seeking information about cancer care,” Dr. Stadtlander says. “That’s something that our team of multispecialty experts at Cleveland Clinic Florida fully supports. Know your options, so you can make the best choices for you.”