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Radiofrequency ablation for cancer pain with inadequate opioid response
  1. Sebastiano Mercadante1 and
  2. Alessandro Schiavello2
  1. 1Pain Relief and Supportive Care, Casa di Cura La Maddalena, Palermo, Italy
  2. 2Private Hospital La Maddalena, Palermo, Italy
  1. Correspondence to Professor Sebastiano Mercadante, Pain Relief and Supportive Care, Casa di Cura La Maddalena, 90146 Palermo, Italy; 03sebelle{at}


Data on the use of radiofrequency (RT) to ablate a tumor mass-causing pain have not been reported. A male in his 50s, diagnosed with a pelvic relapse of rectal cancer, was admitted for pain from the left groin to the perineum. The principal findings of contrast-enhanced computed tomography (CT) revealed the presence in the pelvic area of large solid tissue infiltrating the internal obturator muscle and eroding the vertebral column of the acetabulum. Also involving the gluteal muscles.He was poorly responsive to multiple opioids. He was treated with RT under CT guidance to ablate the pelvic mass. Pain relief was immediate as it was possible to reduce methadone doses since the afternoon of the operation day. Very selected patients who are not responsive to optimisation of opioid therapy, could be candidates to RF of the tumor mass, that may offer an efficient method to provide fast pain relief and allowing opioid dose reduction.

  • Cancer
  • Pain
  • Hospital care
  • Supportive care

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  • Contributors Conception and design—SM. Provision of study materials or patients—AS. Collection and assembly of data—both authors. Data analysis and interpretation—both authors.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.