Bronchoscopic ablation techniques in the management of lung cancer
Central airway involvement is a common manifestation of lung cancer during the disease course. Some patients will require bronchoscopic therapeutic interventions to palliate symptoms, or less commonly to provide more definitive therapy of airway involvement. We describe an overview specifically of bronchoscopic ablative techniques that are available for use in malignant airway obstruction. Techniques that are more commonly used include bronchoscopic application of laser, electrocautery, argon plasma coagulation (APC), cryotherapy and mechanical debulking techniques. Less commonly employed are brachytherapy and photodynamic therapy. These techniques may be applied via flexible or rigid bronchoscopy depending upon the clinical scenario. The choice of technique depends on available tools and expertise, the urgency of the clinical scenario, and whether the lesion is predominately endobronchial, extrinsic compression, or a combination of both. Malignant airway obstruction is a common finding in lung cancer and there are a number of effective bronchoscopic ablative techniques that may be employed safely to palliate patients with a significant symptom burden.