Two cases of complications secondary to the use of microwave ablation (MWA) in non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) are discussed herein. The first case involves a 62-year-old man with stage IB NSCLC who declined surgery and pursued MWA. Within 7 months, he had residual disease at the MWA treatment site, and surgery was performed. The patient was found to have pleural and chest wall involvement, making complete resection impossible. The second case involves an 86-year-old woman with a second local recurrence of NSCLC and previous treatment including surgery and chemoradiation therapy. She was initially a surgical candidate but declined surgery and pursued MWA. Within 6 months, she had residual disease at the MWA treatment site. A second MWA was performed, and she developed a large cavitary abscess at the MWA site and had subsequent clinical decline. Less invasive ablation therapies and stereotactic radiosurgery are being developed for patients with inoperable lung cancer. Because these modalities have recently been developed, trials that clearly show efficacy and survival benefit are yet to be completed. Ablation procedures can result in complications, including residual disease and cavitary lesions susceptible to infection. These cases highlight the caution that should still be observed when recommending lung ablation strategies and the importance of selecting appropriate patients.
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