Interventional oncology (IO) is an umbrella term for minimally invasive cancer treatments that often use medical imaging during the procedure. Imaging types include CT, MRI, Ultrasound and X-rays. Doctors who perform interventional oncology treatments come from a number of disciplines, including neuroradiology, nuclear medicine and interventional radiology.
Many IO treatments start with a probe injected through the skin or into a large blood vessel. Doctors then use real-time images to direct the probe to a tumor. There, it can kill cancer cells with heat, cold or by delivering cancer drugs like chemotherapy, among other techniques. Nearby healthy tissue is left intact.
Nuclear medicine is another type of IO. These treatments fight cancer with radioactive substances that are injected into a vein or through a catheter. When the substances reach the tumor, they deliver radiation to diseased cells. Nearby healthy tissue is left almost completely unharmed. Imaging can help doctors deliver the radioactive substance to the tumor, monitor the treatments and adjust dosages.
All IO therapies can be a primary cancer treatment or used in combination with surgery, radiation therapy or cancer drugs. IO can also treat cancer symptoms, such as pain or fluid build-up.
Some patients choose IO therapy because it can offer shorter recovery times and fewer side effects than other treatments.
In other cases, doctors recommend IO treatments because the tumor cannot be reached with major surgery, or because the patient is not healthy enough for surgery or powerful cancer drugs.
Because IO procedures are minimally invasive, most can be done on an outpatient basis and do not require an overnight hospital stay.
Interventional Oncology Treatments
During cryoablation procedures, a special probe is inserted into the tumor and then cooled to temperatures far below freezing. A ball of ice forms at the tip of the probe, freezing and destroying cancer cells. Cryoablation can used to treat several conditions, including liver cancer and kidney cancer. Read more about ablation therapy.
Patients interested in cryoablation can visit our appointments page.
High-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) kills cancer tissue in the prostate with heat generated by focused ultrasound waves. The treatment may offer improved urinary and sexual function to some prostate cancer patients. Learn more about HIFU.
Patients interested in HIFU can visit our appointments page.
During radiofrequency and microwave ablation procedures, a needle-thin probe delivers radiofrequency waves or microwaves directly to the tumor, heating the tissue until it is destroyed. It is typically used to treat thyroid nodules, liver cancer and liver metastases, among other diseases. Read more about ablation therapy.
Patients interested in radiofrequency or microwave ablation can visit our appointments page. These treatments are offered to thyroid cancer patients through our Interventional Oncology Clinic. Thyroid cancer patients can visit our appointments page or call 713-792-7171.
In Selective Internal Radiation Therapy (SIRT), an isotope called yttrium-90 (Y90) is loaded onto microscopic particles of glass or plastic resin. These particles are injected into the blood vessels that feed the tumor. The particles enter the tumor, delivering high doses of radiation from the inside. Normal, healthy tissue receives only very small amounts of radiation. SIRT is typically used to treat liver tumors, such as hepatocellular carcinoma or liver metastases.
Strontium chloride (SR 89) is a radioactive agent, called a radiopharmaceutical, that is injected into the veins. It does not impact healthy cells but is absorbed by bone metastases, places in bones where a patient’s primary cancer has spread. This treatment can help relieve pain caused by the bone metastases.