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What is interventional oncology for cancer treatment?

Interventional oncology (IO) is an umbrella term for minimally invasive procedures that typically use medical imaging technologies, such as x-rays, ultrasound, CT, and MRI scans. These therapies can be a primary course of treatment or may be used in combination with other treatments, such as surgery, radiation therapy, or drug therapy. In some cases, doctors may recommend IO procedures if the tumor can’t be reached through conventional surgical techniques, or if the patient is not healthy enough for surgery or potent cancer drugs.

Interventional oncology

How does it work?

Many IO procedures begin with a catheter or probe inserted through the skin or into a large blood vessel. Your doctor then uses real-time images to direct the probe to the tumor where it can kill cancer cells by heating, freezing, or by delivering cancer drugs such as chemotherapy. Healthy tissue near the tumor is left intact.

Types of IO procedures include:

  • Cryoablation
  • Cryotherapy
  • Embolization
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Interventional oncology

Treatment sessions

If IO procedures are recommended as part of your treatment, here’s what you can expect:

  • IO procedures may have shorter recovery times and fewer side effects than other treatments.
  • In most cases, IO procedures can be performed on an outpatient basis, meaning you can go home after treatment.
  • Typically, patients are able to continue with daily activities after treatment.
Interventional oncology

Types of interventional oncology procedures

Have questions about interventional oncology procedures? We have helpful answers for you.

Find answers to common questions on our FAQ page.