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Irreversible Electroporation (IRE) Cancer Surgery For Pancreatic Cancer Patients

by Caitlin Obara

Irreversible electroporation (IRE) is a procedure that is often referred to as the NanoKnife procedure after the brand name of the equipment used. The treatment involves using a series of small needles to send electronic,non-thermal pulses into an existing tumor in an effort to kill the cancer cells within it. If you have pancreatic cancer in its earlier stages, IRE could be a recommended form of treatment because it is thought to be so effective. Take a look at a few of the most common questions about IRE treatment for pancreatic cancer and the answers you should know. 

What are the advantages of IRE treatment?

The IRE treatment offers a host of advantages for pancreatic cancer patients. One of the greatest advantages to the treatment is there are no open incisions to contend with after the procedure is done. A few other advantages include:

  • faster recovery time for the patient
  • less risk of damage to healthy tissue surrounding the cancer site 
  • less pain to contend with after surgery 
  • shorter hospital stays after the procedure

As an adage, IRE treatment can be done more than once on the same areas of the body if needed, which cannot be said about a lot of other pancreatic cancer treatments. 

Can you still have IRE treatment if your cancer has spread beyond the pancreas?

IRE is only performed on localized tumors, including for patients who have pancreatic cancer tumors. Therefore, oncologists do usually only recommend IRE for patients who have an inoperable pancreatic tumor in a localized place. IRE can be used to treat different tumor sites throughout the body, however, so it is always good to ask if the other cancerous tumors you have are good candidates for the treatment. 

How does IRE treatment work to get rid of cancer?

The IRE treatment is capable of producing high-temperature pulses that get directly into the cancerous cells of the tumor through needle-like electrodes that have been carefully inserted into precise areas. It is like treating cancer right at its source instead of treating the whole area of the body with chemo or radiation therapy. Once the electrodes have created nano-sized holes in the tumor, the cancerous cells of that tumor usually die off naturally. The ability to treat the localized area means there is less of a risk of damaging the tissues surrounding the pancreas. Therefore, in some cases, the risks of cancer spreading to other organs as a result of treatment is minimal. 

Contact a clinic, like ATLAS ONCOLOGY, for more help.