Not everyone is a candidate for a liver transplant, but now there's an alternative.
Liver cancer in the United States has more than doubled in the last 20 years, according to Dr. Marquis Hart, a transplant surgeon at UCSD Medical Center in La Jolla.
"Conditions that cause chronic liver damage increase the risk of liver cancer," Hart said.
Now, a new minimally invasive option for treating liver tumors called microwave ablation is being performed at UCSD Medical Center and Moores UCSD Cancer Center.
"There are different ways to remove a liver tumor, but we're giving patients a new option in microwave ablation," Hart said. "To put it simply, we zap and destroy liver tumors with heat derived from microwave energy."
Not everyone is a candidate for transplant surgery making microwave ablation a significant alternative.
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To perform the procedure, Hart accesses the tumor through the skin. With the guidance of ultrasound of a CT scan, the tumor is located and then pierced with a thin antenna, which emits microwaves and creates heat. Temperatures above 60 degrees Celsius cause cellular death, usually within 20 minutes.
"With a team dedicated specifically to the liver, our patients receive cutting-edge care from a diverse team of experts," Hart said.
For more information on liver cancer and treatment, go to National Cancer Institute's Web site.