Royal Brompton & Harefield NHS Trust says that a novel cryosurgery technique for otherwise inoperable lung CA shows promise:
Advances in freezing techniques could lead to a breakthrough in lung cancer. Pioneering thoracic surgeon, Mr Omar Maiwand at Harefield Hospital is the first in the world to trial a new treatment, known as direct pulmonary cryosurgery to freeze tumours inside the body. It is believed this breakthrough could help approximately 1,500 patients in Britain per year who are diagnosed with lung cancer.
Direct pulmonary cryosurgery can be used to treat early stage lung cancer in patients who are otherwise inoperable due to impaired lung function or poor general condition. This technique is where a cryoprobe is inserted into the tumour and frozen at temperatures of minus 190C using liquid nitrogen as a coolant. This freezes the tumour area to produce an ice-ball. Once the whole of the tumour is frozen the cryoprobe is removed. Over a period of 3-6 months the frozen tumour disintegrates within the body. Since the trial began in 2003 16 patients at Harefield Hospital have been treated using this new technique. Seven of these patients are now more than a year post-operation, all of which are showing positive signs of being completely free of cancer.
Commenting on this new technique, Mr Maiwand said, “Freezing the tumour is far less damaging than normal surgical removal of the lung as it preserves the lung tissue. Patients benefit from shorter recovery times and have less damage to the function of their lungs. This technique now gives a second chance to patients who were previously inoperable and not fit for surgical treatment.”
In February 2004 Douglas Smith was the world’s 3rd patient to undergo this new surgery. 20 months on Smith is now leading an active life. “If I hadn’t had this surgery I wouldn’t be alive today.” He said.