Hello, my name is Gregory. When I was a young lad, I had to enter the health care world in an unexpected way. I developed a serious disease out of the blue that took doctors by surprise. I went through so many different testing procedures before my doctors could diagnose the rare disease. Everyone around me reeled as they tried to understand the purpose and process of the diagnostic tests. I hope to help others understand these important tests better through this website. Please come by often to learn all you need to know about medical diagnostics and working closely with health care professionals.
Pancreatic cancer is among the most common types of cancer in both men and women. More than 53,000 people are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in a year. And for pancreatic cancer patients who do not have surgery, the one-year survival rate for this type of cancer is only 29%. Unfortunately, surgery is not always possible, often because the tumor is located too close to important structures like veins and nerves. However, a new treatment is making these surgeries more possible for more patients. Take a look at what you need to know about NanoKnife cancer surgery.
What is NanoKnife Surgery?
NanoKnife surgery is a noninvasive surgical procedure that uses electrical currents to destroy tumors. This process is called irreversible electroporation (IRE).
Despite the name, NanoKnife surgery doesn't require the use of a knife. Instead, an interventional radiologist places thin needles called electrodes into the patient's body, surrounding the tumor. Electrical currents sent between the electrodes create tiny holes in the tumor. This process destabilizes the cancer cells, causing cell death and destroying the tumor. Once the cells are dead, the patient's body naturally removes them, and they're replaced with new, healthy cells.
NanoKnife surgery is currently not considered a standalone treatment for pancreatic cancer. Your doctor may still recommend that you undergo chemotherapy or other treatments in conjunction with the IRE. However, the use of IRE to reduce or eliminate tumors can increase a patient's chances of survival over their chances with chemotherapy alone.
What Are the Benefits of NanoKnife Surgery?
The primary benefit of NanoKnife surgery is the ability to target the tumor directly without harming any adjacent body structures. Traditional surgery, radiation, and treatment techniques that involve extreme heat or cold all run the risk of damaging nearby nerves, veins, and arteries. But the NanoKnife technique confines the electrical current between the electrodes, allowing doctors to treat the tumor without affecting other structures.
In this way, Nanoknife surgery provides options to patients who might otherwise not survive. NanoKnife surgery is a newer procedure, but so far it has been shown to be effective. Reviews of the literature concerning IRE found a six-month event-free survival rate of 94%.
However, there are other benefits to the NanoKnife surgery as well. It's less invasive than other types of surgery, which means that patients have a lower risk of infection, an easier recovery, and less chance of scarring. The procedure has minimal side effects because it doesn't do damage to healthy tissue. It can be done on an outpatient basis, saving the patient from the expense and hassle of a long hospital stay.
What's more, the procedure can also be repeated if new tumors are found. Unlike other treatments that take a cumulative toll on the body and eventually become untenable, IRE affects only the tumor and can be repeated if necessary.
Who Is a Candidate for NanoKnife Surgery?
Currently, patients who are considered for NanoKnife surgery include those who have tumors that are otherwise considered inoperable and those who have already had radiation or other treatments that have not been successful at destroying their tumors.
Some patients, such as those who have pacemakers or nerve stimulators implanted, may not be candidates for NanoKnife surgery. It's possible that the electrical currents from the NanoKnife procedure could interrupt the function of the pacemaker or nerve stimulators.
Only you and your doctor can determine whether or not you're a candidate for NanoKnife surgery. If you are suffering from pancreatic cancer and have been told that you have inoperable tumors, or if other treatments have already failed, ask your oncologist about whether you might be eligible for NanoKnife surgery.