Tokyo hospital starts less invasive treatment for early-stage breast cancer

A hospital in Tokyo has started a new type of treatment for early-stage breast cancer that does not involve removing tissue.

The Tokyo Medical Center on Thursday began the treatment known as radiofrequency ablation, in which doctors insert needle-like electrodes that generate heat and kill cancerous cells.

Public health insurance schemes began covering the treatment for early-stage breast cancer last month.

At present, removing all or some breast tissue is the standard treatment, even for early-stage patients.

Radiofrequency ablation is less invasive and poses less physical burden on patients.

Researchers say a clinical study has shown that it is as effective as the standard treatment.

Patients with one malignant tumor less than 1.5 centimeters in diameter can receive the treatment at medical institutions certified by the Japanese Breast Cancer Society.

Tokyo Medical Center's deputy director Kinoshita Takayuki, who led the clinical study, says treating cancer without removing breast tissue benefits patients.

He says he and other researchers involved will work to make the treatment more widely available.