Browser does not support script.
Skip to main content
Find out how we produce our information|
Ablation means ‘to destroy’. There are two different ways of ablating primary liver tumours, using either alcohol or heat.
This type of treatment is used for tumours that are less than 5cm (2in) in size. Alcohol (ethanol) is injected through the skin and into the liver tumour. The alcohol destroys the cancer cells. This procedure is usually done in the scanning department so that ultrasound can be used to guide the needle directly into the tumour. You’ll be given a local anaesthetic.
Several treatments may be required. If the tumour grows again, the treatment can be repeated.
Side effects of percutaneous ethanol injection include pain and fever, and are usually mild. Let your doctor know if you develop any side effects, as they can usually be controlled with medication.
This treatment uses laser light or radio waves to destroy cancer cells by heating them to a very high temperature. A fine needle is passed through the skin into the liver tumour. Powerful laser light or radio waves are then passed through the needle into the tumour. This heats the cancer cells and destroys (ablates) them. RFA| doesn’t always manage to destroy all the cancer cells. Some people may need to be treated more than once. Your doctor will let you know if this treatment is suitable for you.
Like a percutaneous ethanol injection, this treatment is done in the scanning department using ultrasound or CT (computerised tomography) scanning so that the doctor can guide the needle directly into the tumour. You may be given a local anaesthetic or a general anaesthetic.
Side effects of RFA include pain and fever, but they’re usually very mild and can be controlled with medicines.
Content last reviewed: 1 February 2012
Next planned review: 2014
For answers, support or just a chat, call the Macmillan Support Line free (Monday to Friday, 9am-8pm)
If you have any questions about cancer, need support or just want someone to talk to, ask Macmillan.
If you have any questions about Macmillan we would love to hear from you| .
You can also follow us| on Facebook, Twitter, Flickr or YouTube.
© Macmillan Cancer Support 2013
what are these?|