Radiofrequency ablation (RFA) is a treatment that is used for some types of cancer. It is a type of thermal ablation. This means using heat to destroy (ablate) cancer cells.
RFA is the most widely used thermal ablation treatment. Other thermal ablation treatments include:
- microwave ablation (MWA)
- laser therapy
- high-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU)
- cryotherapy or cryosurgery.
RFA uses a probe called an electrode to apply an electrical current (radiofrequency) to a tumour. The electrical current makes the cancer cells vibrate rapidly, causing friction. The heat created from the friction destroys the cancer cells. The area that has been treated gradually gets smaller and becomes scar tissue.
RFA doesn't always manage to destroy all the cancer cells. You may need to be treated more than once. RFA can be repeated if the tumour starts to grow again.