Interventional Radiology, a rapidly advancing field of medicine, has recently made important inroads into the management of cancer patients, ultimately leading to the creation of a new specialty called Interventional Oncology. Cancer care has evolved over the last decade into the multidisciplinary approach of today and Interventional Oncology (IO) is at the forefront of this evolution by drawing from both interventional radiology and surgery to offer minimally invasive procedures performed under imaging guidance to treat cancer. As a result, Interventional Oncology is now considered the 4th pillar of cancer care, along with medical, surgical and radiation oncology, is rapidly growing and has successfully established itself as an essential component of the multidisciplinary care of cancer patients.
The main benefits of IO are the ability to perform procedures using the precision of imaging guidance thereby targeting the tumors without harming healthy tissue and organs. For example, effective cancer drugs (chemotherapy) or radiation can be delivered locally using the body’s natural pathways such as arteries to destroy the cancer without affecting the surrounding healthy tissues. Such techniques are now being used commonly to treat patients with liver cancer, either arising in the liver itself (primary form) or having spread to the liver from another site such as the colon, rectum, pancreas, breast and others (called metastatic or secondary liver cancer). Similarly, small needles can be inserted through the skin under imaging guidance to burn or freeze tumors sparing the surrounding healthy organs. Such procedures, called ablation, can be performed for a variety of cancers, specifically liver, kidney, lung and a few other cancer types.