Cancer pain can be intense, wide-spread, and hard to manage. When medications or other treatments no longer provide relief or cause too many side effects, surgical options are available.
Ablation is a general term for surgical interventions that permanently alter or destroy tissues or nerves causing pain in the body. In patients already undergoing oncological treatments, these treatments can provide a minimally invasive option to help relieve pain and reduce the reliance on pain medication and opioids.
Common Ablative Cancer Pain Relief Procedures
Most ablative procedures for cancer-related pain involve the interruption of pain pathways in the spinal cord or brain. Some procedures use radiofrequency (RF) current to create lesions in these pathways by heating the tip of a very fine probe. Other procedures use highly focused radiation beams to destroy tissue in the brain using a device known as the Gamma Knife. Surgical ablative methods also include microsurgical techniques to section nerve fibers under direct vision and provide precise ablation of the nerves.
Since cancer and the location of cancers can vary so widely from patient to patient, your BSSNY neurosurgeon will learn about your specific diagnosis, current treatments, and pain experience to find the right treatment for you or a loved one. If ablation is an option, he will work with you and your medical team to ensure the best outcomes. The following are common ablative procedures that help relieve cancer pain.
Many of these treatments are used as a part of a palliative care team approach. It is essential to understand all of the outcomes associated with these procedures. Dr. de Lotbinière can walk you or a loved one through the risks, benefits, and details of these procedures to ensure you feel well-informed and confident.