Interventional oncology offers “tomorrow’s world” cancer treatment today
The precisely targeted destruction of tumours using heat, ice or microwave energy whilst sparing surrounding healthy tissue may sound futuristic but this cutting-edge form of cancer treatment is already being provided by the emerging field of interventional oncology. In particular cancers of the kidney are responding remarkably well to this new treatment - called tumour ablation.
Whereas previously the entire kidney had to be surgically removed (radical nephrectomy), now it is possible to target only the tumour itself - leaving a properly functioning kidney intact.
Using imaging technology to diagnose and precisely target cancer, interventional oncology has become established as the 4th pillar of cancer treatment alongside medical treatments (such as chemotherapy), surgery and radiation (radiotherapy).
This newest highly specialised “needle-hole” procedure is called tumour ablation and it is made possible by the huge advances that have been made in imaging technology including computer tomography (CT) scanning,positron emission tomography (PET),ultrasound and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
Consultant Interventional Radiologist Dr Rowland Illing is an expert in this emerging field. He states: “Due to the incredible improvements that have been made in the field of medical imaging we are now able to destroy diseased tissue using energy delivered down needles whilst leaving surrounding healthy tissue undamaged.”
The Future of Cancer Care has Arrived
The minimally invasive nature of this treatment means that patients suffer less pain, have fewer side effects and shorter recovery times.The role of ablation in the treatment of certain cancers of the liver, lung, kidney and soft tissues has recently been approved by the National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE).
Different types of energy are also currently being evaluated including irreversible electroporation (IRE) and high intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) and these may offer novel treatment options in the future.