According to an article published in the Journal of Roentgenology, radiofrequency ablation appears to be an effective treatment option for small kidney cancers.

The kidneys are each filled with tiny tubules that clean and filter the blood-the process that removes waste and makes urine. Renal cell cancer (RCC) is a cancer involving these tubules of the kidney.

Radiofrequency ablation is a type of therapeutic approach that utilizes a small wand to deliver radio waves to the site of the cancer. The wand is guided through scans, such as computed tomography; the waves produced kill the cancer cells while sparing the surrounding tissue. This procedure tends to be an outpatient procedure, with no general anesthesia required. Radiofrequency ablation is commonly used in the treatment of tumors in the liver.

Researchers recently evaluated outcomes of patients with RCC who were treated with radiofrequency ablation between 2000 and 2006. The study included 104 patients with cancer sizes ranging from 0.6 to 8.8 cm. Follow-up was nearly 14 months.

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  • Of the 95 cancers that were 3.7 cm or less, all were successfully eradicated with a one-time treatment of radiofrequency ablation.
  • Among larger cancers, 70% were completely eradicated.
  • The rate of cancer-free survival decreased by over twofold with each 1-cm increase in the diameter of the cancer over 3.6 cm.
  • There were no long-term complications reported from this procedure.

The researchers concluded that radiofrequency ablation appears highly effective against smaller RCCs and is very well tolerated. Patients with RCC may wish to speak with their physician regarding their individual risks and benefits of treatment with radiofrequency ablation.

Reference: Zagoria R, Traver M, Werle D, et al. Oncologic efficacy of CT-guided percutaneous radiofrequency ablation of renal cell carcinomas. Journal of Roentgenology. 2007; 189:429-436.

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