A recent study conducted by Dr. Allan Siperstein and colleagues at the Cleveland Clinic presented three and five year survival data following radiofrequency ablation of colorectal liver metastases. As Siperstein noted in his paper, colorectal cancer is the third most common cause of cancer death in men and women, resulting in more than 53,000 deaths in 2007.
The report showed 3-year and 5-year survival rates of 20.2% and 18.4%, respectively. The study was based on a prospective evaluation of 234 patients with colorectal liver metastases who underwent 292 RFA sessions between 1997 and 2006. The patients in this study were not candidates for surgery and had failed chemotherapy prior to receiving RFA. In the absence of treatment such patients have 5-year survival rates near zero.
The mean size of the dominant lesion was 3.9 cm – lesions ranged in size from 1.1 cm to 10.2 cm. In the paper’s Q&A, Dr. Siperstein acknowledged that newer RFA equipment allows for an ablation volume of up to 7 cm. This enabled him to take on more challenging cases as the study progressed.
Dr. Siperstein used RITA ablation probes, manufactured by AngioDynamics, to perform all of the ablation procedures in the study. AngioDynamics acquired RITA in January 2007.
Dr. David L. Bartlett, Professor of Surgery and Chief of Surgical Oncology at the University of Pittsburgh is a strong believer in the technology, “To take a group of unresectable patients and provide 18% 5-year survival, I think really cements the role of radiofrequency ablation in this disease.”
According to published reports, up to 25% of patients with colorectal cancer will develop liver metastases within five years, 50% will show evidence of metastatic disease, and of these only 8% to 27% will be candidates for surgery. The remaining patients rarely survive five years.