Scientists have developed a technique that heats up and destroys kidney and liver tumours.
Physicians at Mayo Clinic's Florida campus are the first to use a technique known as MRI-guided laser ablation to heat up and destroy kidney and liver tumours.
So far, five patients have been successfully treated - meaning no visible tumours remained after the procedure.
Although the treatment techniques are in the development stage, the physicians have said the treatment is potentially beneficial against most tumors in the body - either primary or metastatic - as long as there are only a few in an organ and they are each less than 5 centimetres in size.
"Laser ablation offers us a way to precisely target and kill tumours without harming the rest of an organ. We believe there are a lot of potential uses of this technique - which is quite exciting," said Eric Walser of the Mayo Clinic.
The procedure is performed inside an MRI machine, which can precisely monitor temperature inside tumours. A special non-metal needle is inserted directly into a tumour, and the laser is turned on to deliver light energy. Physicians can watch the temperature gradient as it rises, and they can see exactly in the organ where the heat is.
When the tumour and a bit of tissue that surrounds it is heated to the point of destruction - which can be clearly seen on monitors - the laser is turned off. In larger tumours, several needles are inserted simultaneously.
Post-treatment side effects include some local pain and flulike symptoms as the body reacts to, and absorbs, the destroyed tissue, he said.
Walser added that laser ablation is a much more precise technology than similar methods that use probes, such as radio frequency ablation, which also raises a tumor's temperature, and cryotherapy, which freezes tumours.
David Woodrum of the Mayo Clinic presented the results at the meeting of the Society of Interventional Radiology.