Thermal ablation of pancreatic cancer: A systematic literature review of clinical practice and pre-clinical studies

Paola Saccomandi, Alfonso Lapergola, Fabio Longo, Emiliano Schena, Giuseppe Quero

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


PURPOSE: Pancreatic cancer is a challenging malignancy with low treatment option and poor life expectancy. Thermal ablation techniques were proposed as alternative treatment options, especially in advanced stages and for unfit-for-surgery patients. This systematic review describes the thermal ablative techniques -i.e., Laser (LA), Radiofrequency (RFA), Microwave (MWA) Ablation, High-Intensity Focused Ultrasound (HIFU) and cryoablation- available for pancreatic cancer treatment. Additionally, an analysis of the efficacy, complication rate and overall survival for each technique is conducted. MATERIAL AND METHODS: This review collects the ex vivo, preclinical and clinical studies presenting the use of thermal techniques in the pancreatic cancer treatment, searched up to March 2018 in PubMed and Medline. Abstracts, letters-to-the-editor, expert opinions, reviews and non-English language manuscripts were excluded. RESULTS: Sixty-five papers were included. For the ex vivo and preclinical studies, there are: 12 records for LA, 8 for RFA, 0 for MWA, 6 for HIFU, 1 for cryoablation and 3 for hybrid techniques. For clinical studies, 1 paper for LA, 14 for RFA, 1 for MWA, 17 for HIFU, 1 for cryoablation and 1 for hybrid techniques. CONCLUSIONS: Important technological advances are presented in ex vivo and preclinical studies, as the real-time thermometry, nanotechnology and hybrid techniques to enhance the thermal outcome. Conversely, a lack of standardization in the clinical employment of the procedures emerged, leading to contrasting results on the safety and feasibility of some analyzed techniques. Uniform conclusions on the safety and feasibility of these techniques for pancreatic cancer will require further structured investigation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)398-418
Number of pages21
JournalInternational journal of hyperthermia : the official journal of European Society for Hyperthermic Oncology, North American Hyperthermia Group
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2018


  • cryoablation
  • High Intensity Focused Ultrasound
  • laser ablation
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • radiofrequency/microwave

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)
  • Cancer Research


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