Interventional Radiology Treatments for Cancer

If you have cancer, you may receive “image-guided treatments” known as interventional radiology.

Today, more people survive cancer than ever before. This is partly because of innovations in imaging technology, including CT and MRI. Modern imaging procedures let doctors catch cancer early. They also help doctors perform cancer treatments without the risks of surgery.

What is Interventional Radiology?

Interventional radiology is an important field within the specialty of radiology. Doctors who specialize in this field are interventional radiologists. They use sophisticated imaging technology and minimally invasive techniques to treat many diseases.

Most interventional radiology procedures use thin, hollow tubes (catheters). Imaging software helps the doctor guide the tube through blood vessels or other passageways to a specific place inside your body. Your doctor will pass tiny tools or treatments through the tube. These may include stents, balloons, laser energy, radioactive particles or medications.

A growing number of interventional radiology procedures help treat cancer. This includes cancers of the bone, breast, kidney, liver and lung.

Common Interventional Radiology Procedures

Mercy offers many state-of-the-art interventional radiology procedures. They help kill cancer cells or improve pain and other symptoms caused by cancer. Our services include:

  • Ablation procedures use extreme heat or cold to destroy a tumor. Radiofrequency and microwave ablation procedures burn cancer cells. Cryotherapy freezes cancer cells.
  • Embolization procedures shrink a tumor or cut off its blood supply. One method inserts tiny beads into the blood vessels that feed the tumor. The beads block the blood vessel, suffocating the tumor. Sometimes beads containing chemotherapy or radioactive material are injected directly into the tumor. These procedures are called chemoembolization and radioembolization. They're usually used to treat liver cancer.
  • Kyphoplasty and vertebroplasty treat spine fractures caused by spinal tumors or other cancers. During vertebroplasty, your doctor injects bone cement into a collapsed vertebra. During kyphoplasty, your doctors inserts and inflates a small balloon in the vertebra. This creates space for bone cement. Kyphoplasty may be combined with radiofrequency ablation, to heat and destroy spinal tumors while simultaneously reinforcing the vertebrae.
  • Paracentesis treats a cancer complication called ascites. It occurs when fluid builds up inside your belly, causing abdominal swelling. Paracentesis uses a special needle to drain and collect the excess fluid. This helps reduce pain, improve kidney function and relieve shortness of breath.
  • Venous access procedures place special tubes under your skin. These tubes include ports, PICC lines and catheters. They let your caregivers draw blood or give medications from the same location, every time. This reduces the number of needle pricks you’ll receive over the course of your treatments.

Interventional radiology procedures may be combined with other cancer treatments. These include radiation therapy, chemotherapy or cancer surgery.

If you’re nervous about your cancer treatments, you’re not alone. But you can take comfort knowing Mercy is by your side. We’ll provide the support and encouragement you need to get through treatment, recovery and beyond.

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