RF ablation uses radiofrequency waves to kill tumor cells and destroy nerve fibers, which reduces or stops the transmission of pain signals to the brain. A research team led by Dr. Jason Levy, a vascular and interventional radiologist at Northside Hospital in Atlanta, used RF ablation to treat lytic bone metastases and then followed up with cement injection to help stabilize the bone. The team enrolled 218 cancer patients at 15 sites around the world between October 2017 and February 2020.
Patients completed questionnaires to measure their quality of life and pain levels prior to RF ablation, three days after, and then intermittently for a year. Levy and colleagues used both the five-level EurolQol scale and the European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC) Quality of Life (Qol) measurement.
After a year, 59 patients who completed the EurolQol showed significant improvements. Similar improvements were observed for 14 patients who completed the 12-month EORTC Qol measurement. The researchers note many patients were unable to be surveyed through the entire 12-month milestone because of the palliative nature of RF ablation.
Given the results, the researchers said this treatment should be available to more patients with metastatic cancer earlier in their treatment process.
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