What is tumour ablation for lung cancer?

At our hospitals, we are able to use ablation to treat some forms of lung cancer using bronchoscopy and interventional radiology techniques.

Ablation is a form of minimally invasive lung cancer treatment that uses heat or extreme cold to destroy lung cancer cells. A bronchoscope (a thin lighted tube with a camera at its end that is passed through the mouth or nose and down the throat) can be used to direct the treatment to where it’s needed in the lungs.

This bronchoscopic technique usually occurs in cases where the tumours are blocking off part of the main airways, causing problems with breathing.

The suitability of this procedure to treat lung cancer will depend on the type and location of the tumour and the way in which this appears on a CT scan.

What happens in tumour ablation for lung cancer?

Treatment can be carried out using a range of techniques. These include:

Microwave ablation

This treatment uses high frequency microwave energy to create heat, which is used to kill cancer cells. This can also be completed percutaneously, by inserting a probe through the skin of the chest and directly into the tumour.


This treatment of cryotherapy uses cold temperatures from a freezing probe applied to areas of abnormal airway, lung or tumour. The freezing process causes some of the tumour to stick onto the probe and this can then be removed from the airway.

Stent insertion

Self-expanding metallic stents are placed to keep the main airway(s) open.

Explore our dedicated thoracic surgery consultants

At Guy’s and St Thomas’ Specialist Care, our specialists offer innovative treatments for private patients with lung cancer.