Image-Guided Cancer Ablation
Image-guided cancer ablation involves the placement of needles into a tumor, then the tumor is destroyed using extreme heat (microwave or radiofrequency) or extreme cold (cryoablation) to directly kill the cancer. Initially developed in the 1990’s for liver cancer, today it is used in many cancer types and locations.
Research work by Den Brok (1) has demonstrated the underlying immune response of ablation. Ablation of cancer can function like a vaccination against the tumor, generating an immune response.
In typical vaccinations, the disease-causing agent is killed or weakened and injected into the body. Ablation results in the killing of tumor within the body, leaving pieces of cancer that can potentially be recognized by the immune system.
Studies have demonstrated that ablation has the potential to be more effective, than surgery for the treatment of local tumors. However, for most cancer patients, it is the spread of the tumor from the original location “metastases” that ultimately results in their death. For metastatic disease, systemic therapies, such as chemotherapy, have been the only option for treatment, and overall not as effective as desired.
Now it appears that the immune response produced by ablation, combined with intra-tumoral injection of immunotherapy agents, such as Yervoy, Opdivo and Keytruda, can create a highly effective anti-cancer immune response with eradication of cancer, even beyond the directly treated site.