Cancer Ablation


What Is Ablation?

Ablation uses heat, cold or electric current to destroy tumors during minimally invasive procedures. It can help when standard surgery alone is not enough or is not appropriate. Ablation is a low-risk option for kidney, liver and pancreatic cancer.

Your doctor performs ablation with minimally invasive surgery or a special needle inserted through the skin, guided by imaging. Most treatments take place as an outpatient procedure or with an overnight hospital stay. You recover quickly, allowing you to move on to any other needed therapy. You can also undergo ablation again later if tumors reappear.

The Aurora Difference

Latest Minimally Invasive Ablations for Liver, Kidney & Pancreatic Cancer

At Aurora Health Care, you receive the care and options you need for effective ablation therapy:

  • Latest treatments: You have access to the most advanced, minimally invasive approaches to ablation available. One breakthrough technology, NanoKnife,
 provides a new option if you have inoperable liver or pancreatic cancer. Aurora is the first Wisconsin cancer program to use NanoKnife.
  • Expertise: A top specialist — either a surgical oncologist or an interventional radiologist — performs your ablation. You work with a doctor who has completed specialized training (fellowship) and passed a rigorous test of skills and knowledge (board certification). Find a doctor.


Ablation Types

Providing the Ablation That's Right for You

Using your goals and personalized treatment plan, your team recommends the best ablation option for your needs. These options include:

  • Cryoablation: Extremely cold gas destroys the tumor by freezing it.
  • Microwave ablation: Electromagnetic waves generate heat to burn the tumor.
  • NanoKnife: A newer approach uses electrical pulses to damage tumor cells, causing them to die while sparing blood vessels and ducts. NanoKnife can provide hope if you have a liver or pancreatic tumor that doctors can’t remove. A 2015 study showed that it doubled survival rates in people with advanced pancreatic cancer that had not yet spread to other areas.
  • Radiofrequency ablation (RFA): Radio waves heat the tumor, destroying it.

Cancers Treated

Another Option for Kidney, Liver and Pancreatic Cancers

Ablation can help treat certain cancers:

  • Kidney cancer: Some people receiving ablation may have only one kidney, which they need to preserve. Others may have other health problems that prevent kidney cancer surgery. Some may have a tumor return after surgery. For all these scenarios, ablation works best for smaller tumors.
  • Liver cancer: Ablation can provide a good option if you can’t have liver cancer surgery because of your liver function or overall health. It may also help if you are waiting for a liver transplant. Ablation gets the best results with smaller tumors.
  • Pancreatic cancer: At diagnosis, many pancreatic cancers haven’t spread elsewhere in the body but are large enough to make surgery impractical. Ablation can help control these tumors.

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