Using Advanced CT Scans and Thermal Technology to Eliminate Cancer Cells from Within

Each month, the Desert Radiology team educates our local community on health topics, best health practices and radiology industry advancements and procedures. This month, we are highlighting lung cancer because it’s one of the most common cancers that can occur in the body, and it’s the leading cause of mortality among cancer patients.

Lung cancer most commonly occurs in patients with a history of smoking and those who’ve had prolonged exposure to secondhand smoke. Patients with a family history of lung cancer are also at an increased risk of developing lung cancer in their lives. Although some may believe vaping leads to lung cancer, there has not been enough data or time to show a correlation between the two at present time.

While traditional cancer treatments like chemotherapy and surgical tumor removal are options to address cancer cells on the lungs, innovations in the industry and advanced CT scans have allowed doctors to use heat energies such as "radiofrequency or microwave" and cold energy such as "cryoablation". Both intending to use extreme of temperature to destroy tumor cells.

Thermal ablation is a minimally invasive procedure that destroys tumors and cancer cells by applying intense heat or cold to the tumor. During the procedure, surgeons use a CT scan of the lungs to guide them as they place thin needles around the tumor. The needles then produce extreme heat or cold to destroy the cancerous cells with minimal risk to the patient.

Lung thermal ablations offer many advantages to the patient. Some of them include:

  • Minimal side effects and complications.
  • Better preservation of lung function after ablation compared to traditional surgical tumor removals.
  • Patients may resume chemotherapy almost immediately after the procedure.
  • The procedure can be used on patients who are not candidates for surgery or have multiple tumors.
  • Often a one-time treatment procedure that may CT scans every three months and a PET scan every six months to ensure no complications occur or diseases remain after the procedure.

Although thermal ablation is a great option for treating cancerous tumors within the lungs, there are a few prerequisites patients will have to undergo before being considered for the procedure.

Thermal lung ablation is best suited for patients who are in stage 1A of lung cancer, where tumors 3 centimeters in size or less are present and before the cancer has spread to lymph nodes throughout the body. Additionally, patients will need to get cardiac clearance to ensure the heart is in good shape for the procedure. Patients with peacemakers are okay to undergo a thermal ablation procedure if they also meet the other prerequisites

Additionally, lung ablation can also be offered for oligometastatic, i.e., limited metastatic disease to the lung to reduce tumor burden and increase longevity of life.

Currently, Centennial Hills Hospital is the only Las Vegas hospital that offers lung thermal ablation, but there have been promising results from bigger medical centers in California and New York, meaning more medical centers are likely to begin performing the procedure soon.

For more information about lung thermal ablation and whether it’s the right option for you, we recommend speaking to your regular doctor. We also recommend patients with a history of smoking, 20 pack a year, a family history of lung cancer and those that are aged 50 and over have a treatment plan in place should lung cancer begin presenting itself. As with most diseases, lung cancer treatment is most effective in the early stages, and an early diagnosis and treatment plan leads to the highest chance of survival and lowers the risk of long-term complications.

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