“Ablation” means destroying tumors with heat, cold, or electrical current. Ablation may be used if pain from bone metastases comes back or worsens after radiation therapy. Before or during the procedure, the treatment team uses imaging studies to map the locations of the cancerous areas. A small needle or probe then delivers the treatment directly to the tumor. Examples include:
- thermal ablation, which uses very high temperatures
- cryoablation, which uses freezing cold temperatures
- radiofrequency ablation, which uses high-frequency electrical currents
Another option is focused ultrasound, which does not use a probe but instead focuses ultrasound waves on the areas of cancer within the bone. This produces high temperatures that destroy the cancer cells.
All of these therapies have different risks and side effects, so your doctor can help you decide what’s best for your situation. In some cases, the treatment team will insert bone cement to strengthen and stabilize the bone after an ablation procedure.