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Dr. Jack West is a medical oncologist and thoracic oncology specialist, and Executive Director of Employer Services at the City of Hope Comprehensive Cancer Center in Duarte, CA.

FDA Reports Patient Deaths with Radiofrequency Ablation to Lung Tumors
Thu, 12/13/2007 - 21:37
Howard (Jack) West, MD, Associate Clinical Professor, Medical Oncology, Executive Director, Employer Services, Founder, President and CEO of GRACE

This week, the US FDA made a public announcement to alert the public that it had received reports of several patient deaths from the technique of radiofrequency ablation (RFA) to lung tumors. This is an investigational technique that I described in a prior post, after several members asked about RFA. I made the point that while it was an option to consider, it was still early in development and was not an option that I thought would be a leading option except in very unusual circumstances. You heard it here first...

There have been some individuals and centers that have been liberal in their marketing of this technique, including for lung tumors. The FDA warning highlights the danger of marketing hype getting ahead of the evidence supporting the safety and clinical benefit of a new technique or drug, which really need to be subjected to thorough clinical testing. These trials are well regulated and closely monitored, and their results will move the field forward. Accordingly, the FDA warning mentions that RFA should preferably be conducted on lung tumors in the setting of a clinical trial.

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