Thermal ablation of tumours: biological mechanisms and advances in therapy

Nat Rev Cancer. 2014 Mar;14(3):199-208. doi: 10.1038/nrc3672.


Minimally invasive thermal ablation of tumours has become common since the advent of modern imaging. From the ablation of small, unresectable tumours to experimental therapies, percutaneous radiofrequency ablation, microwave ablation, cryoablation and irreversible electroporation have an increasing role in the treatment of solid neoplasms. This Opinion article examines the mechanisms of tumour cell death that are induced by the most common thermoablative techniques and discusses the rapidly developing areas of research in the field, including combinatorial ablation and immunotherapy, synergy with conventional chemotherapy and radiation, and the development of a new ablation modality in irreversible electroporation.

Publication types

  • Historical Article
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Ablation Techniques / history
  • Ablation Techniques / methods*
  • Animals
  • Apoptosis
  • History, 19th Century
  • History, 20th Century
  • History, 21st Century
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / history
  • Neoplasms / physiopathology
  • Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Surgery, Computer-Assisted / history
  • Surgery, Computer-Assisted / methods