Research conducted at the Warren Grant Magnuson Clinical Center shows that by using radiofrequency energy, doctors can now "cook" tumors without actually removing them. The non-surgical technique, used increasingly for kidney and liver cancers, can also be used on cancers elsewhere in the human body.
During radiofrequency ablation (RFA), a tiny needle is inserted into the tumor and radiofrequency energy applied through the needle tip to the tumor. As the tip heats, it sizzles or cooks a 1- to 3-inch tennis-ball size area in 10-30 minutes, killing the tumor cells. Larger tumors can be treated by overlapping treatments. The dead cells are not removed, but become scar tissue and eventually shrink.
Radiofrequency energy is electromagnetic and non-ionizing in nature, similar to microwave energy. Researchers have used RFA throughout the human body, including the liver, kidney, adrenal, breasts, ribs, lungs, diaphragm, muscle, prostate, and pelvis.