Hope in the fight against lung cancer with percutaneous tumour ablation

Lung health

Harefield Hospital’s Dr Paras Dalal is finding great success in the treatment of lung cancer with percutaneous tumour ablation.

Lung cancer remains the greatest cause of cancer deaths worldwide. Despite excellent and advancing surgical, radiotherapy and chemotherapy techniques, outcomes remain poor – particularly for primary lung cancer. In part this is due to only a small percentage of patients that are amenable to surgical cure.

Over the last 10 to 15 years, new local treatments have been developed which are showing excellent results. Among the most exciting of these is percutaneous tumour ablation which is a minimally invasive therapy.

The technique involves energy delivery into and around tumour tissue (heating or freezing) using needle-type applicators. The three most common energy systems utilised in the UK are radio frequency, microwave and cryo-ablation. Percutaneous ablative techniques aim to destroy tumour cells and create localised areas of tumour necrosis with minimal damage to surrounding healthy tissue.

Procedures are usually performed under anaesthetic in the CT imaging suite. This allows visualisation of the tumour tissue during the procedure and also very accurate needle placement, thereby minimising complications.

Harefield hospital hosts the world’s only dedicated lung tumour ablation centre, which was set up in 2008. Dr Paras Dalal, who leads the service, has extensive experience of the techniques and has been performing procedures for over ten years. He has successfully treated several hundred patients, with several thousand tumours (both primary and secondary), achieving excellent results. Indeed, Harefield Hospital boasts a 100 per cent record for complete tumour ablation with radiofrequency treatment. Surveys have also reported a significant improvement in overall quality of life in patients after treatment.

As an alternative to surgery, especially in cases of secondary lung cancers (metastases), ablation offers a minimally invasive option with a short hospital stay, which has also been shown to preserve lung function. It is this new alternative that has allowed many more people the opportunity of a successful cancer treatment.


Dr Paras Dalal

Consultant cardiothoracic radiologist

Dr Dalal specialises in cardiac, thoracic and oncological imaging and intervention (including endobronchial ultrasound); lung transplant imaging and percutaneous therapies for lung tumours (including radio-frequency ablation, microwave therapy and cryoablation).