Targeted heat therapy could offer new non-invasive cancer, tumour treatment
For the first time in North America, Canadian doctors have used a high-intensity ultrasound to attack a benign bone tumour. This offers hope that the non-invasive procedure can be used to combat various types of cancers without the need for a surgical knife.
A year ago, 16-year-old Jack Campanile of Brampton, Ont., was diagnosed with a tumour in the bone of his leg. Though it wasn’t malignant, the growth was causing the teen intense pain, and making it difficult for him to play sports.
Years ago, the standard medical procedure would have been to make an incision into Campanile’s leg to remove or burn away the growth. But such a technique often renders the patient prone to infection, tissue burns or bone fracture.
Researchers around the world are investigating the power of targeted heat therapy to kill common cancers
Instead, doctors at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto used Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) to pinpoint Campanile’s tumour, and then targeted it with ultrasound beams. The procedure is known as high-intensity focused ultrasound, or HIFU.
“It’s actually able to heat the tissues in a very specific way, and that’s why we use the MR, to monitor and to target the ultrasound beam,” said Dr. James Drake, who runs the hospital’s Centre of Image Guided Innovation and Therapeutic Intervention.
Now, researchers around the world are investigating the power of this high-intensity ultrasound to kill common cancers — including brain, breast, liver and prostate.
As part of a study, nine children with bone cancers are expected to undergo targeted heat therapy.
In Campanile’s case, the therapy had almost immediate effects. The teen says he has been pain-free ever since, which means he’s finally able to get a good night’s rest, and can function without the aid of painkillers.
“Now it’s perfect, I can run jump — everything that I could do before without getting any pain,” said Campanile, who is believed to be the first pediatric patient in North American to be treated with HIFU.
His tumour, which is called an osteoid osteoma, is now dead and will gradually disintegrate, doctors say.
Published Saturday, August 9, 2014 9:51PM EDT
Last Updated Saturday, August 9, 2014 11:32PM EDT
With a report by CTV Medical Specialist Avis Favaro and producer Elizabeth St. Philip and with files from The Canadian Press