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Feasibility of radiofrequency ablation for primary breast cancer


As the management of breast cancer evolves towards less invasive treatment, the next step is the possibility of removing the primary tumor without surgery. The most promising of the noninvasive ablation techniques is radiofrequency ablation, which uses frictional heating caused when ions in the tissue attempt to follow changing directions of a high frequency alternating current. The radiofrequency probe is typically placed into the tumor under ultrasound guidance, and the ablation is performed with real time ultrasound monitoring. Preliminary studies in which RFA was followed by standard surgical resection have indicated that this technique is effective for the surgical ablation of small (≦ 2 cm) primary breast tumors. A new study at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center will use RFA as the sole local treatment of breast tumors ≦ 1.5 cm in size to determine if this technique is oncologically and cosmetically appropriate for the local treatment of primary breast cancer. Twenty patients with small tumors that are clearly identifiable and measurable by ultrasound will be enrolled in the study. Successful ablation will be determined by core and fine needle biopsies, and long-term outcomes will be assessed using imaging studies and quality of life measurement scales for 5 years following treatment.

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Author information

Correspondence to S. Eva Singletary.

Additional information

Reprint requests to S. Eva Singletary, Department of Surgical Oncology, Box 444, The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, 1515 Holcombe Boulevard, Houston, TX 77030, USA.

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Cite this article

Singletary, S.E. Feasibility of radiofrequency ablation for primary breast cancer. Breast Cancer 10, 4–9 (2003).

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Key words

  • Radiofrequency ablation
  • Invasive breast cancer
  • Primary tumor ablation