Microwave ablation is a minimally invasive procedure in which the doctor uses targeted heat to destroy a non-resectable tumor. Ablation can be performed in an outpatient setting and may be used alone or in combination with chemotherapy, radiation, or other therapies.1 Studies show that ablation is a good alternative when a liver tumor cannot be removed surgically.2-4
Microwave ablation procedures are not recommended for patients with cardiac pacemaker or other implanted electronic devices. Potential risks have not been evaluated.
Microwave ablation procedures are not recommended for pregnant patients. Potential risks to the patient and/or fetus have not been established.
In a procedure called a partial hepatectomy, the surgeon removes the part of the liver containing the tumor. However, surgical removal is only feasible in approximately 10–20% of cases.5
Your doctor may consider a liver transplant if the tumor(s) cannot be removed with surgery. However, transplant opportunities are limited due to a long nationwide waitlist.
Targeted doses of radiation can destroy or shrink liver tumors.
Chemotherapy involves delivering drugs throughout the body to destroy as much of the tumor(s) as possible.
This minimally invasive technique destroys the tumor by placing substances inside the tumor to cut off blood supply to the tumor cells. The substances may include chemotherapy drugs or radiation therapy agents.
Your doctor may choose to monitor the tumor carefully over time to see if it is growing or causing liver damage.
Your doctor will consider many factors in determining the right intervention for your liver tumor(s), including:
Ruers T, Van Coevorden F, Punt CJA, et al. Local Treatment of Unresectable Colorectal Liver Metastases: Results of a Randomized Phase II Trial. JNCI: Journal of the National Cancer Institute. 2017;109(9):
Forner A, Gilabert M, Bruix J, Raoul J-L. Treatment of intermediate-stage hepatocellular carcinoma. Nature Reviews Clinical Oncology. 2014;11(9):525-535.
National Comprehensive Cancer Network. (n.d.). Retrieved July 18, 2016, from https://www.nccn.org/
Benson AB 3rd, D’Angelica MI, Abbott DE, et al. NCCN Guidelines Insights: Hepatobiliary Cancers, Version 1.2017. Journal Of The National Comprehensive Cancer Network: JNCCN. 2017;15(5):563-573.
Tanis E, Nordlinger B, Mauer M, et al. Local recurrence rates after radiofrequency ablation or resection of colorectal liver metastases. Analysis of the European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer #40004 and #40983. European Journal of Cancer. 2014;50(5):912-919. doi:10.1016/j.ejca.2013.12.008.
Information on this site should not be used as a substitute for talking with your doctor. Always talk with your doctor about diagnosis and treatment information.