Page last updated at 09:47 GMT, Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Cancer treatment without surgery

Dr Simon Smith
Dr Simon Smith destroys tumours using needles guided by computer

A specialist treatment to destroy cancer tumours without surgery is being introduced at a Suffolk Hospital.

Consultant radiologist Simon Smith is pioneering the use of a radiofrequency based treatment at Ipswich Hospital.

During the procedure needle electrodes are inserted into tumours by a surgeon guided by a computer image generated by ultrasound waves.

An electrical current is then passed through the needle, heating it and destroying the tumour tissue.

The programme at Ipswich, largely funded by donations, means patients will no longer have to travel to London for the treatment.

One night stay

Dr Smith said: "The treatment is mainly used in bowel cancer when it has spread to the liver or lungs.

"But in some instances it can be used on primary tumour sites too. I expect to use it to treat about 10 patients a year.

"Patients only have to stay one night in hospital rather then the many days they would stay if they had surgery to remove a tumour. It's also done under local anaesthetic which is more pleasant for the patient."

The national Cancer Thermal Ablation Fund met the costs of Dr Smith's training and manufacturers donated equipment worth 30,000.

Cancer Campaign in Suffolk have donated 13,000 for needle equipment for the next two years.

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