As the fourth pillar of Oncology care, Interventional Radiologists provide care for cancer patients from diagnosis through treatment and palliation of cancer-related symptoms.
Interventional Radiologists work closely with cancer treatment teams including Oncologists, Hematologists, Urologists, Gynecologic Oncologists, Surgical Oncologists, Radiation Oncologists, and others. Multidisciplinary care leads to more cancer treatments and prolonged survival (1,2) and IR at LSU is heavily involved in these teams.
Biopsy and Diagnosis of masses: when a mass is diagnosed, the next step is often a biopsy to obtain tissue for diagnosis. Using CT or ultrasound as a guide, a small needle is inserted into the mass and tissue is removed through the needle for diagnosis. Abnormal fluid can also be removed and evaluated for cancerous cells.
Tumor ablation: Certain cancers can be treated with needles that produce heat or freeze tissue. One or more needles are inserted into a cancer using CT or ultrasound guidance and the cancer is cooked or frozen. Once treated, the tissue becomes a scar that shrinks over time. Lung, liver, and kidney cancers are often treated with this technique.
TACE: Transarterial chemoembolization is the injection of chemotherapy and small particles that block blood flow to cancers. This procedure gives a high dose of chemotherapy to cancer and minimizes the dose to the rest of the body which produces better outcomes and fewer side effects. The small particles block arteries that cut off vital oxygen and nutrient supplies to cancers. Liver cancers are ideally suited for this type of treatment due to a dual blood supply to this organ that maximizes the effect on cancers and minimizes damage to normal liver tissue.
Y-90, Selective Internal Radiation Therapy (SIRT): Tiny radioactive particles are injected into an artery supplying liver cancer. Particles travel through the arteries to small capillaries within and around cancer. This leads to a high dose of radiation in and around cancer while sparing much of the normal liver. Y90 treatment is performed as an outpatient in 2-3 sessions with very few side effects making it ideal for certain liver cancers such as hepatocellular carcinoma and metastatic cancers such as colon cancer, breast cancer, melanoma, and neuroendocrine tumors.
Preoperative Tumor Embolization: Certain cancers have a large amount of blood flow through multiple enlarged arteries. When cancer surgeons remove these tumors, excess bleeding can lead to a more complicated surgery including blood transfusion, difficult resection, and potentially worse survival. Prior to surgery, this risk can be greatly reduced by a minimally invasive angiogram in which arteries supplying cancers are blocked with small plugs or particles to prevent bleeding during surgery.
Angiomyolipoma: These benign tumors that typically occur in the kidney may grow large enough to cause internal bleeding. Minimally invasive treatment can be performed by injection medication into the arteries of these tumors resulting in a decrease in the risk of bleeding, shrinkage, and improvement in symptoms from large tumors.
Palliation of Cancer Related Pain: The effects of pain in cancer can lead to patients choosing between bearing the pain to remain alert versus taking narcotic medication to feel better. Interventional Radiology techniques are aimed at control of pain through injection of medication into nerves, freezing of painful cancerous tissues, or reducing cancer sizes to reduce or eliminate pain. Fluid accumulation can be controlled with drainage or other techniques to improve mobility (Pleurex, paracentesis, thoracentesis). Venous blood clots can be treated to reduce or eliminate leg swelling that results from deep venous thrombosis (DVT).
For additional questions about new therapies or treatments that are not described on this page, please contact Interventional Radiology for an appointment and in-person discussion with one of our Board Certified physicians. Our nurse navigators can be reached at 504-702-3309.
1. Pan CC, Kung PT, Wang YH, Chang YC, Wang ST, Tsai WC. Effects of multidisciplinary team care on the survival of patients with different stages of non-small cell lung cancer: a national cohort study. PLoS One. 2015;10(5):e0126547. Published 2015 May 12. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0126547
2. MacDermid E, Hooton G, MacDonald M, et al. Improving patient survival with the colorectal cancer multi-disciplinary team. Colorectal Dis. 2009;11(3):291-295. doi:10.1111/j.1463-1318.2008.01580.x