Interventional oncology (IO) is the youngest and fastest growing branch of interventional radiology, dedicated to the diagnosis, treatment and palliation of cancer and cancer-related problems using minimally invasive procedures performed under image guidance. IO treatments are carried out by interventional radiologists.
IO has effectively established itself as an important treatment speciality within multidisciplinary oncologic care, together with Medical, Surgical and Radiation Oncology. IO is now considered the fourth pillar of modern cancer care. While the surgical excision of tumours is generally accepted to offer the best long-term solution, it is often not possible due to the size, number or location of the tumour. IO therapies may be applied to shrink the tumour, making a surgical or interventional treatment possible. Some patient groups may also be too weak to undergo open surgery. IO treatments can be applied in these complex cases to provide effective and milder forms of treatment. Interventional oncological techniques can also be used in combination with other treatments to help increase their efficacy. For example, IO techniques can be used to shrink large tumours making them easier to excise. Chemotherapeutic drugs can also be administered intra-arterially, increasing their potency and removing the harsh effects of system-wide delivery.
Patients can greatly benefit from IO treatments. The minimally invasive nature of the treatments means they cause less pain, fewer side effects and shorter recovery times. Many IO procedures can be performed on an outpatient basis, freeing up hospital beds and reducing costs.