Interventional radiology team members at work

Interventional radiology offers minimally invasive options for diagnosing and treating many types of cancer by using a range of extremely targeted therapies.

In these procedures, doctors insert a catheter, or flexible tube, through a small incision. And using imaging technologies like CT, MRI, fluoroscopy or ultrasound, they guide the catheter to the affected area.

Once there, they can use the pathway to:

  • Perform surgery or biopsies
  • Cut off the blood supply to the tumor
  • Deliver chemotherapy or radiation directly to the tumor
  • Use heat, extreme cold or electricity to destroy cancer cells

For cancer treatment, the benefits of interventional radiology are twofold: It allows for exact placement of the therapy so that it treats only the cancer, leaving normal tissue alone. And the small incision and targeted approach can reduce side effects and offer shorter recovery times.

Interventional Radiology Cancer Treatments

Interventional radiology specialists at University of Maryland Medical Center in downtown Baltimore treat both common and complex cancers, including liver, lung, kidney and bone cancer.

Tumor Biopsy

A biopsy for cancer removes and examines tissue from a specific area or organ in the body to determine whether cancer is present and, if so, the extent, or stage, of it. A biopsy is usually the first step in deciding the best course of cancer treatment.

We choose the optimal imaging technology for the location and type of tumor to guide the catheter. Depending on the organ and type of tissue sample needed, we may use fine-needle biopsy or core needle biopsy to take the samples.

Tumor Ablation

These interventional radiology procedures use image-guided catheters to place an electrode or needle at the tumor site to kill cancer cells using heat or extreme cold.

Cancer Types Treated by Ablation at UMMC: Lung, liver, kidney, prostate, cervical, some skin cancers.

Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA) and Microwave Ablation (MWA)

Both these types of ablation use heat to destroy cancer cells. In RFA, a high-frequency electrical current heats the electrode. And in MWA microwave current heats the needle.

Cancer Types Treated With RFA and MWA at UMMC: Lung, liver and kidney cancer.


In cryoablation, very cold gas, such as liquid argon or nitrogen, passes through the probe.

Cryoablation is typically applied to the skin to treat skin tumors, pre-cancerous moles, and, when surgical removal is not an option, prostate, liver, lung, kidney and cervical cancers.

Cancer Types Treated With Cryoablation at UMMC: Skin and, in some cases, prostate, liver, lung, kidney and cervical cancers.

NanoKnife (IRE)

Irreversible electroporation, known as IRE, treats hard-to-reach, soft tissue tumors.

Instead of applying heat or cold like ablation, IRE sends electricity to the site to destroy cancer cells. NanoKnife is an option for patients whose cancerous tumors are close to blood vessels, ducts or nerves that are at risk of damage using other techniques. Learn more about NanoKnife (IRE).

Cancer Types Treated by NanoKnife at UMMC: Lung, kidney, liver


This minimally invasive catheter procedure delivers chemotherapy medication in biodegradable beads directly into a tumor without damaging healthy tissue.

The chemo drugs kill the cancer cells while the beads stop blood flow to the tumor. It is often effective for patients whose cancer has spread to other areas of the body.

Cancer Types Treated by Chemoembolization at UMMC: Liver and bone cancer


During a radioembolization procedure, tiny glass or resin beads called microspheres are placed inside the blood vessels that feed the tumor. They deliver a high dose of radiation to the tumor without damaging healthy tissue.

While the radiation attacks the tumor, the beads block blood flow and oxygen to the tumor. Radioembolization can help extend the lives of patients with inoperable liver cancer.

Radioembolization is a treatment for cancer that has metastasized, or spread to other areas of the body.

Cancer Types Treated by Radioembolization at UMMC: Liver



Liver Cancer Conference

Liver cancer
This conference on December 8, 2023, presented by the UM School of Medicine, provides CME credit for health professionals.
Liver Cancer Conference