Using a minimally-invasive technique can be just as effective in treating kidney cancer as surgery, according to a study published in Cancer (2010 April 14 [Epub ahead of print]).

“The standard treatment is usually nephrectomy, where the surgeon removes the tumor and some surrounding tissue via open or laparoscopic surgery,” said Jeffery Cadeddu, MD, professor of urology and radiology at UT Southwestern Medical Center. “With surgery, there is a 5 percent to 10 percent risk of bleeding and an associated need for transfusion, as well as increased chance of readmission for the patient. Of course, the recovery time is longer as well.”

The study involved more than 200 patients who were treated with radiofrequency ablation (RFA). Once the diagnosis of the tumor was confirmed and the RFA technique agreed upon, a needlelike probe was placed inside the tumor. Then, radiofrequency electricity waves passed through the probe to heat up tumor tissue and destroy it.

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Results of the study revealed that the RFA technique showed similar effectiveness as surgical removal of tumors in treating kidney cancer. Researchers reported that with RFA, 90% of the patients are able to go home the same day and that RFA yields superior preservation of kidney tissue.

“Preserving kidney function has been clearly demonstrated to maximize quality of life and length of life for patients with kidney tumors,” Dr. Cadeddu concluded. “Whenever