Is Stereotactic Radiofrequency Ablation a Safe Option for Treating Breast Cancer Metastases?

In some patients with breast cancer liver metastases, surgical liver resection is not an option, but stereotactic radiofrequency ablation can be offered as a safe and minimally invasive alternative. Researchers reported their findings in the Journal of Vascular and Interventional Radiology.

The study was a retrospective analysis that included 29 treatment sessions of stereotactic radiofrequency ablation in 26 consecutive patients in whom systematic treatment had failed. The patients had 64 breast cancer liver metastases (BCLMs), all confirmed with biopsy. All visible BCLMs of patients in the study were treatable.

The primary technical success rate was 96.9% (62 of 64), and the secondary technical success rate was 100%. In 5 tumors, local recurrence was identified, with no significant differences among tumor sizes. No patients died before, during, or after the procedures.

After the first treatment with stereotactic ablation, patients had a median survival of 29.3 months ± 8.9 after a median follow-up of 23.1 months. Additionally, there were no significant differences in overall survival among tumor volumes < 50 cm3, 50-100 cm3, and > 100 cm3.

Overall survival was not impacted by the number of metastases. There was a median overall survival of 32.7 months ± 10.4 for single lesions, while there was a median of 17.7 months ± 3.2 for 2/3 lesions and a mean of 68.4 months ± 17.23 for > 3 lesions.

“Considering the poor survival rates of patients with chemotherapy-resistant BCLMs, with a median overall survival time of 3–10 months, stereotactic radiofrequency ablation seems to be a low-risk option and a valuable alternative to surgical liver resection,” the researchers wrote.

The authors noted that the study is limited by its single-center collection of data and retrospective design and that results need confirmation by a prospective, multicenter study.


Bale R, Richter M, Dünser M, Levy E, Buchberger W, Schullian P. Stereotactic radiofrequency ablation for breast cancer liver metastases. J Vasc Interv Radiol. 2017 Dec 19. pii: S1051-0443(17)30911-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jvir.2017.09.027. [Epub ahead of print].