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Radiofrequency Ablation and Microwave Ablation

Male patient in bed smiling at wife

Ablation uses electrical currents or electromagnetic waves (microwaves) to destroy cancer cells. Each technique uses image guidance to directly target cancer cells and ensure that healthy tissues are not harmed.

This treatment option is often used if you aren’t a candidate for surgery or if your tumors are small (less than 1.5 inches in diameter).

Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA) for Liver Cancer

This procedure places a thin needle into your liver tumor. The needle delivers high-frequency electrical currents into the tumor, creating heat that destroys the liver cancer cells. RFA can be performed by a radiologist or by a surgeon as part of a larger operation.

Microwave Ablation (MWA) for Liver Cancer

Similar to RFA, microwave ablation uses a thin needle to transmit microwaves into your liver tumor to destroy cancer cells with heat. This is the ablation method most frequently used at Penn Medicine.