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Interventional Oncology

Gundersen interventional radiologists offer many minimally invasive procedures to help diagnose and treat cancer, as well as manage symptoms to improve your quality of life. Our experts work closely with doctors in the Center for Cancer & Blood Disorders to deliver targeted and precise treatment of solid tumors in almost all organs of the body.

Because no large incisions are made, most interventional radiology procedures are faster, less risky and require shorter hospital stays than traditional open surgery.

Treatments we offer

The following interventional radiology procedures are available at Gundersen Health System:

Chemoembolization - Chemoembolization is used to treat tumors that originated in the liver or cancer that has spread to the liver from other sites. It works by delivering chemotherapy medication directly into the tiny hepatic arteries that supply the tumor. These tiny arteries are then plugged with an embolic agent. This helps keep the chemotherapy in the liver and also cuts off blood to the cancerous tumor.

Needle biopsies - Needle biopsies use X-ray, ultrasound or another imaging technique to guide a needle into the tumor and take a small sample of tissue. Many cancers are now diagnosed by needle biopsy.

Photodynamic therapy - Photodynamic therapy treats cancerous tumors by combining a drug that makes cancer cells sensitive to light with a laser catheter that emits non-heating, visible light directly within the tumor. The light triggers a chemical reaction within the drug that destroys tumor cells while limiting damage to normal tissue.

Portal vein embolization - Portal vein embolization induces growth on one side of the liver before a planned tumor resection on the other side. This allows surgeons to remove all of the cancerous tissue while leaving enough healthy tissue behind to preserve liver function. It is commonly used prior to liver resection for cancer that originated in the liver and colorectal cancer that spread to the liver.

Radioembolization - Radioembolization is a non-surgical technique, similar to chemoembolization, which injects radioactive beads into tumors that originated in the liver or cancer that has spread to the liver. The radiation destroys the tumor cells from within the tumor, with little impact to the surrounding healthy liver tissue.

Tumor ablation - Tumor ablation uses extreme temperatures to kill cancer cells or slow their growth. Tumor ablation can be performed to treat cancer in bone, lung, liver, kidney and other soft tissues.

Vascular ports - Vascular ports are devices implanted completely beneath the skin surface for long-term use. Ports minimize the number of needle pricks that patients undergo due to chemotherapy or routine blood work. Ports can be safely left in place for many months or even years. When no longer needed, they are quickly and easily removed.

Symptoms we treat

Interventional radiologists can also help prolong life and decrease pain and other symptoms that occur during cancer treatment. This includes:

  • Placing catheters to relieve obstructions of the gastrointestinal or urinary systems
  • Placing catheters so excess fluid in the belly or chest can be drained at home
  • Using tumor ablation to treat pain
  • Keeping liver tumors under control until organ transplant
what to expect

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