Radio-frequency ablation 'cooking' kidney cancer tumors



Posted on February 3, 2010 at 6:40 PM

Updated Wednesday, Feb 3 at 7:23 PM

Fifty-seven-thousand people will be told they have kidney cancer this year. 12,000 of them will die from it. Now doctors are cooking the tumors from the inside out to keep them from coming back.

He collects movies.

"I love the movies. The old ones even more than the new ones today, because I'm a film collector and a film buff," said Louis Bershad, kidney cancer survivor.

Hollywood talent manager Louis Bershad wasn't ready for the plot change in his own story.

"He just picked up the MRI and looked at it and said, 'It's definitely cancer,'" said Bershad. "And when he said that, the meeting became a silent movie. I could see his lips moving, but I heard nothing. It was absolute silence."

Louis had kidney cancer. He was given the option of radio-frequency ablation.

"It basically cooks the tumor to death," said Dr. Peter Julien, Chief of Thoracic Imaging at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.

The procedure uses a needle that's inserted into the middle of the tumor. Guided by CT scans, doctors heat up the tumor.

"The energy that's delivered to the tumor is right at the needle tip. It's very intense energy that can heat up the tumor, over 150 degrees. It can heat up the tumor basically to boiling," said Julien.

There's no incision, minimal to no damage to surrounding organs and patients go home the same day.

"The best ending - the best ending you could have. Ending is a bad word. Let's just say the film is over, but the life goes on," said Bershad.

Bershad is back to Hollywood, only now he has a new favorite film.

"The best film of all is when you get your MRI from your doctor and he says there's no cancer. That's the best film I've ever seen," said Bershad.

The radio-frequency ablation procedure is also being used for small tumors of the liver and lungs. This is a good  option for patients who are not healthy enough for surgery.