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Minimally invasive procedure at Stony Brook shown promising for certain lung cancer patients


Stony Brook is the only hospital in Suffolk County to Perform RFA for Lung Cancer

STONY BROOK, NY, March 2, 2006 óJerry Mannato, 84, of Patchogue, an avid walker and non-smoker for the past 35 years had already undergone open heart surgery twice in his life when he was diagnosed with early stage lung cancer in 2005. His surgeon, Thomas Bilfinger, M.D., Sc.D.

Dr.Bilfinger (right) shown with patient, Jerry Mannato
Dr.Bilfinger (right) shown with patient, Jerry Mannato
at Stony Brook University Hospital, felt that Mr. Mannato should avoid another invasive surgical procedure. So Mannato opted for a promising new minimally invasive procedure called radiofrequency ablation (RFA) to treat the tumor, which was the size of a cherry pit.

"Jerry was a candidate for RFA because he was a high-risk patient for invasive surgery," says Dr. Bilfinger. "And because we found his tumor at a very early stage, RFA was even more of a viable option."

Dr. Bilfinger and Stony Brook clinical radiologist William Moore, M.D., were specially trained at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center to perform RFA for lung cancer. They are the only physicians in Suffolk County treating lung cancer patients with RFA.

RFA has been used to treat liver cancer and other diseases, but it is rarely used to treat lung cancer. For patients with lung cancer who meet the clinical criteria, RFA may help to slow disease progression, minimize trauma to lungs and surrounding tissue, and reduce length of stay in the hospital.

The procedure involves using a high-frequency electrical current through a needle electrode that is inserted through the skin and directly into a tumor to destroy diseased tissue. The physicians use mostly a computerized tomography (CT) scan to guide the probe.

Mannato is one of six patients that have had RFA treatment for lung cancer at Stony Brook since August 2005. His November procedure successfully destroyed the cancerous tumor. And like all the patients treated by RFA for lung cancer at Stony Brook, he was home one day after the procedure. Since then, he has resumed his active lifestyle and there has been no evidence his cancer has returned.

Dr. Bilfinger stresses that RFA is not intended to replace surgery or chemotherapy for lung cancer. It is, however, an emerging treatment option. He and Dr. Moore expect that Stony Brook will participate in a national clinical trial to assess the long-term results of RFA for lung cancer.

"This technology is promising, yet evolving," said Dr. Bilfinger. "It will be several years before we know the full implications of RFA for treating lung cancer."

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