In order to understand the interventional oncology, radiology and interventional radiology should be defined first. Radiology is a branch of science that examines diseases in our body with imaging methods such as ultrasound, computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and angiography. Radiologists are doctors who diagnose diseases by examining these films and write a report. Interventional radiologists use the same imaging devices, i.e. ultrasound, CT, MRI and angiography, to treat many diseases with "non-surgical" and minimally invasive methods.
Interventional oncology is a side branch of interventional radiology. This side branch is considered as a separate branch from radiology and interventional radiology since it has developed very rapidly in the last 20 years. Interventional oncologists use innovative imaging devices to implement innovative therapies in many types of cancers. These therapies are performed by placing special needles under ultrasound or CT guidance from the skin (percutaneous ablation) or by reaching the artery supplying the tumors and injecting some substances (arterial interventions) in angiography devices. Interventional oncologic procedures have some important advantages over conventional cancer treatments:
1. Unlike surgical treatments:
Procedures are performed with local anesthesia and mild sedation, general anesthesia is not used.
There are no incisions or stitches, all treatments are applied through a needle hole at the skin.
The patient does not need to stay in hospital for long, and may return home on the same or next day.
The risk of side effects (complications) is less.
Treatment can easily be repeated as many times as necessary.
2. Unlike radiotherapy:
Some tumors are resistant to radiotherapy, but there is no treatment resistance in most interventional procedures.
In radiotherapy it is usually not possible to re-irradiate the same site, because after a certain dose, the normal tissues will be damaged. However, there is no such accumulation in interventional procedures. Therefore, interventional therapies can be repeated in the same area many times.
There is no risk of damage to adjacent tissues and new cancer developments as in radiotherapy.
3. Unlike chemotherapy:
Local and regional effects are higher than chemotherapy.
Systemic side effects are less than chemotherapy.
There are no or few resistant tumors to interventional treatments.
Interventional oncology in cancer management
Prof Saim Yilmaz, MD