Microwave Ablation : Heating Tumor to Death

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Microwave Ablation : Heating Tumor to Death

This new treatment procedure at Om Hospital has made it easy to cure both cancerous and non-cancerous tumors without surgery in Nepal.

A few months ago, a 70 year old patient from Pokhara had come to Om Hospital and Research Center for medical tests. He was diagnosed with a tumor in the kidney, Renal Cell Carcinoma (RCC), a form of kidney cancer. The patient, who also had a heart problem, was twice taken to the operation theatre to remove the tumor. However, the doctors were unable to start surgery as giving him anesthesia would further complicate his health conditions.

After multidisciplinary discussions at the hospital, it was decided that he would be treated with the Microwave Ablation (MWA) procedure to cure his tumor. The team led by Dr Ajit Thapa, interventional radiologist at Om Hospital, successfully performed MWA on the patient. According to the hospital, this is the first instance of a MWA procedure being performed in Nepal to cure a kidney tumor.

MWA procedure is a treatment method to destroy tumors that grow in the inner parts of the body. The doctors performing MWA use CT Scan or Ultrasound (USG) guidance to insert a small laparoscopic port having a needle called ‘antenna’ through the skin of the patient to access the tumor. On connecting it to microwave generator machine, the needle tip generates heat and subsequently kills tumour cells as the temperature rises above 45 degree Celsius.

In the case of the patient from Pokhara, doctors at Om had to do multiple ablations in the same session to remove the tumor which was 5.5 cm in size. Basically, MWA is helpful to treat tumors of 3cm in size. But, it can be performed on larger tumours too. Subsequent ablations can be done if some portion of cancer is left or if the cells reappear.

According to Dr Thapa, MWA procedure has low risk and it can be used to treat multiple tumours. “It is also a minimally-invasive treatment for cancer. The procedure can also be performed by giving local anesthesia to the patient,” he informs.

 “The treatment is beneficial if the tumour is difficult to reach for surgery. If the tumors don’t respond to chemotherapy, then this method of treatment is advantageous to remove cancer cells,” adds Thapa.

According to him, the tumour of the patient from Pokhara has been completely cured and no residual tumour was seen on follow-up diagnoses.

The success rate for completely eliminating tumor through the procedure is more than 80 percent. “A large number of cancer patients can benefit from the procedure. The procedure is beneficial if surgery is not possible and tumors are scattered inside the body,” mentions Dr Thapa.

Earlier, patients had to go through chemotherapy or surgery to cure cancerous tumors. This new procedure is an alternative, as the results of MWA are better and involve minimal risk. While penetrating the needle through the skin, the doctors look to avoid arteries and veins to prevent bleeding.

Dr Thapa shares that the procedure is also used to remove benign tumors, a non-cancerous tumors. “Benign tumor doesn’t spread to other parts of the body. This type of tumor can appear in different parts of the body such as thyroid, bones and breasts,” he says.

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