Colorectal Cancer

Radiofrequency ablation for bowel cancer

Radiofrequency ablation is a form of treatment that can be used to destroy tumours in the liver. Under anaesthetic, a needle is inserted into the tumour. Radio waves are transmitted through the needle into the tumour and the heat generated by the procedure destroys the cancer cells. At present this treatment is still experimental and available to a limited number of patients.

Only one person we interviewed had been treated with radiofrequency ablation and he himself had suggested it to his oncologist after reading about it in the newspaper. He explains how he found out about the treatment and describes his experience of it.


Explains how he found out about radiofrequency ablation and describes the procedure.

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Explains how he found out about radiofrequency ablation and describes the procedure.

Age at interview: 53
Sex: Male
Age at diagnosis: 51
I thought and hoped that this was not only a very benign, or fairly benign alternative to surgery, but I thought if they can zap the tumour surely that's the, the end of the, potentially the end of the problem. They made it quite clear to me that it was palliative and not curative which means that it was as I say a "quick fix solution", which I found depressing because that, that means and as they, as they said themselves it means almost inevitably these tumours can grow back again.

The needle is guided to the centre of a tumour, um, radio frequency is, is put through that which in effect, burns the tumour. When I woke up from surgery I had nausea but that was from the anaesthetic and all one had was a, some large plasters on, on my right hand rib cage.

So there was, there was hardly any pain or discomfort at all, it really wasn't noticeable by the time I went home the next day, from that point of view I felt fine. However, because the, the tumours have been, carbonised to some extent within the liver the body had got to get rid of those poisons and for the next four or five days it's like having flu in that one has a temperature variation.

So one time you may be feeling very sort of hot and sweaty, particularly in the middle of the night and another time all cold and shivery. That was it, it wasnit what I call a traumatic procedure, it was certainly no worse than having, not much worse than having chemotherapy.

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Last reviewed August 2016.

Last updated May 2012.

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