Radiofrequency Ablation as Effective as Traditional Surgery in Treating Renal Cancer


Radiofrequency ablation (RFA) showed similar effectiveness as surgical removal of renal tumours in curbing cancer recurrence rates for up to 5 years after treatment, according to a study published online in the journal Cancer.

Of the 208 patients who underwent the RFA procedure, 160 were diagnosed with renal cell carcinoma. Those patients had 3- and 5-year survival rates of more than 95%.

"These types of cancers aren’t typically fast-growing, but there are between 40,000 and 50,000 cases of kidney cancers diagnosed each year in the United States," said Jeffrey Cadeddu, MD, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, Texas. "The fact that cancer survival rates were comparable with surgical interventions is very encouraging."

Currently, many patients who are diagnosed with primary tumours that originate inside the kidney are treated surgically.

"The standard treatment is usually a partial nephrectomy," said Dr. Cadeddu. "With surgery, there is a 5% to 10% risk of bleeding and an associated need for transfusion, as well as an increased chance of readmission for the patient. Of course, the recovery time is longer as well."

The recovery time for open surgery is about 6 to 8 weeks and 3 to 4 weeks for laparascopic procedures.

With RFA, 90% of the patients are able to go home the same day, said Dr. Cadeddu, but the real advantage to RFA is its superior preservation of kidney tissue.

"Preserving kidney function has been clearly demonstrated to maximise quality of life and length of life for patients with kidney tumors," said Dr. Cadeddu. "Whenever possible, we try to save as much of the kidney as we can."