Radiology oncologists may have a new option for treating patients with bone metastases who have already reached their radiation dose limit because of prior treatment: image-guided radiofrequency ablation (RFA).

A recent study has shown that RFA is an effective means to decrease the level of pain in cancer patients with bone metastases. The RFA technique—which is already often used to treat liver, kidney, and lung cancer tumors—uses CT to guide the treatment, which administers heat to ablate the tumor cells. The results of the National-Cancer-Institute-sponsored study were published online in the journal Cancer.

Researchers, led by Damian Dupuy, MD, director of ablation services at Rhode Island Hospital and a professor at The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, treated 55 patients who had a single bone metastasis. The patients rated their pain before their treatment and at regular intervals after the RFA procedure. In every case, the patients had significant reduction in pain and improvements in their mood. The most significant improvements were seen at the one-month interval.

In a press release issued with the study results, Dupuy noted that RFA is an effective alternative, non-invasive method and has a number of  “potential advantages over other methods in that cell death is immediate, lesion size can be accurately controlled, lesion temperature can be monitored, and [the procedure] can be performed under local anesthesia and conscious sedation in an outpatient setting.”

(Source: Press Release)