Objective: Treatment options for patients with non-small cell lung cancer who are not surgical candidates or who refuse operation are limited. Radiofrequency ablation represents a potential less invasive option for these patients. Our initial experience with radiofrequency ablation for peripheral, primary non-small cell lung cancer is reported. Methods: We treated 21 tumors in 18 patients. Median age was 75 (range 58-86) years. Cancer stages were I (n = 9), II (n = 2), III (n = 3), and IV (n = 4). Patients with stage IV disease included 3 with recurrence after previous lobectomies and 1 with a synchronous liver metastasis also treated with radiofrequency ablation. Median tumor diameter was 2.8 cm (range 1.2-4.5 cm). Radiofrequency ablation was delivered by minithoracotomy in 2 cases and by a computed tomography-guided percutaneous approach in 16 patients. Computed tomographic and positron emission tomographic scans were used to evaluate recurrence and radiographic response in ablated nodules. Results: One postoperative death occurred from pneumonia after open radiofrequency ablation. Median hospital stay was 2.5 days. A chest tube or pigtail catheter was required in 7 patients (38.9%) for procedure-related pneumothoraces. At a median follow-up of 14 months, 15 patients (83.3%) were alive. Local progression occurred in 8 nodules (38.1%). Mean and median progression-free intervals were 16.8 and 18 months, respectively. For stage I cancers, mean progression-free interval was 17.6 months. Median progression-free interval was not reached. Conclusion: This study demonstrates the feasibility of radiofrequency ablation for small, peripheral non-small cell lung cancer tumors. Local control is comparable to, if not better than, that provided by radiotherapy. Radiofrequency ablation should continue to be evaluated by thoracic surgeons as a noninvasive therapy for the high-risk patient with non-small cell lung cancer.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine