Des Moines Physician among First in U.S. to Treat Patients with Advanced Tumor Ablation System

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Iowa-Radiology, in association with John Stoddard Cancer Center, recently became the first in the state, and among the first in the nation, to successfully treat its patients using the STAR™ Tumor Ablation System. The procedure employs Targeted-Radio frequency Ablation (t-RFA™) therapy, which allows physicians to provide rapid pain relief in a single treatment for metastatic spinal tumors.

Metastatic bone disease occurs in up to 85 percent of patients with the three most common types of primary cancer - breast, prostate and lung.  The spine is the most common site for bone metastases in the body, as cancerous cells spread from a primary location, such as a breast, lung or prostate, and grow within the spine's vertebral body. Metastatic spinal tumors can weaken or fracture the vertebrae, causing varying levels of pain and disability, from mild to severe. According to a 2009 Journal of Neurosurgery study, metastatic spinal tumors will develop in between 10 to 40 percent of all cancer patients, with even higher rates in elderly patients.

The STAR System, created by DFINE, Inc., was developed specifically to treat metastatic vertebral body tumors. Using t-RFA, the procedure is typically an outpatient procedure and can be performed using local anesthesia through a small incision.  A small steerable device enters the vertebra in a minimally invasive manner. The physician can then target precisely where the RF energy is delivered with the intent to heat and destroy the metastatic spinal tumor cells and alleviate pain.

Charles DePena, MD, of Iowa-Radiology, said "The STAR System is a great advance in the palliative care we can offer our patients. This new targeted therapy provides rapid relief from the debilitating effects of spinal tumors in the vertebrae without interrupting a patient's current cancer treatment schedule.  We are excited about the many potential benefits of this unique therapy for our patients."

Dr. DePena is currently partnering with John Stoddard Cancer Center Radiation Oncology in the development and utilization of the STAR System to improve patient care and cancer treatment.