‘Nanoknife’ treatment fights cancer in breakthrough Leeds procedure

Dr Tze Wah performs the 'nanoknife' surgery.
Dr Tze Wah performs the 'nanoknife' surgery.
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A pioneering procedure, using ‘nanoknife’ technology to destroy cancer cells with pulses of electricity, has been used in Leeds to tackle a kidney tumour for the first time.

The technique, also known as image guided irreversible electroporation (IRE), has been used in the UK previously to treat liver and pancreatic cancer but this was the first such a procedure was carried out on a kidney tumour, and the first time the technology has been used in Leeds.

Consultant interventional radiologist Dr Tze Wah has led a team in performing the procedure, which took less than two hours, on 59-year-old Alan Speight, from Dewsbury, at the Leeds Cancer Centre at St James’s Hospital.

Dr Wah said: “With the type of tumour Alan had the options for conventional treatment using heat or ice based energy was unsuitable and may destroy the kidney due to its location. The availability of this new nanoknife or IRE technology has revolutionised the way we can offer treatment to the tumour and prolong the life of his kidney.”

The technique saw special nanoknife needles inserted into the tumour at a set distance apart. CT scanning was used to check they were in the right position and to ensure that no delicate organs would be damaged.

Once the needles were in position, pulses of electricity punched ‘nanoholes’ in the tumour to destroy cancer cells. Mr Speight recovered well and was able to go home a day later.

Dr Wah added: “There is every indication the procedure has been successful. I am very pleased that we are now able to use this nanoknife technology to add to the range of treatment options available here.”