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Wednesday, December 31, 1997 Published at 03:32 GMT


New 'tumour freezing' treatment gives some hope for cancer sufferers
image: [ The new method allows much less scarring than conventional surgery ]
The new method allows much less scarring than conventional surgery

A pioneering method of treating cancers by freezing tumours with liquid nitrogen is on trial at a London hospital, and could help maintain the quality of life for sufferers.

One patient has had the treatment, and another 19 are to receive it soon. The method could a big step forwards for the 30,000 people who are diagnosed with bowel cancer each year, who are particularly susceptible to secondary tumours in the liver.

Cancer patient John Grindrod, 61, was the first person to undergo the keyhole surgery, which leaves a much smaller scar than conventional treatments.

Surgery guided by ultrasound

He was diagnosed with cancer last year, and despite treatment, secondary tumours appeared in his liver. He said: "All I have is a little imprint. It could be a spot for all it looks. It's amazing."

[ image: Professor Tim Allen-Mersh]
Professor Tim Allen-Mersh
The surgery was performed at the Westminster and Chelsea Hospital, and took place in the X-ray department. The surgical team used ultrasound to guide them as they inserted a probe into Mr Grindrod's liver.

The temperature at the tip of the probe was reduced to minus 190 degrees Celsius, which then destroyed the tumours.

Professor Tim Allen-Mersh said the new system would control the cancer within the liver. "We can delay symptoms resulting from the disease's growth, and sustain the patient's quality of life. We also hope to be able to prolong life by controlling the disease within the liver," he said.

Anne Keatley Clarke, from Colon Cancer Concern said the new treatment was not a cure, but a way of keeping people well for longer and maintaining their quality of life.

"That is vital for people that are suffering from cancer," she said.

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