Information on kidney cancer treatment

Information on kidney cancer treatment

Kidney cancer in the last decade has seen an enlarge in detection through the finding of small renal masses (SRMs) or tumours with an average enlarge of 2% to 3% per year. Now almost 40-50% of renal tumours are detected in early stages. Nearly half of these patients are above the age of 60-65. These are often well localized and smaller than 4cm in size.  In a Canadian study nearly 60-70% of the SRMs did not spread to other parts of the body although one third (33-35%) of these tumours had progressed.

This rise in incidence is mostly due to the widespread use of kidney cancer treatment through routine abdominal imaging such as ultrasonography, computed tomography (CT), and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) for a variety of abdominal situation Although some of these tumours are benign, they are treated like any other malignant tumour although less radically and with simply invasive techniques. Early detection gives an opportunity to detect kidney disease sign early and be capable to not only cure an otherwise lethal disease but save the kidney also. The results, therefore, are excellent.

A diagram of where kidney cancer grows

Such tumours are characterized by CT scan if it is already not done. Biopsy (taking small samples of tissue) is done in selected cases particularly when it is hard to characterize the tumor on the CT scan.

Kidney cancer treatment

The treatment varies from surveillance (observation) to local excision of tumours. Local excision (partial nephrectomy) is the procedure of choice in most cases. On occasions when it is not possible to save the kidney, radical nephrectomy is done.  In addition, there are plainly invasive treatments such as radio frequency ablation and cryosurgery.

The treatment is centered on Radio frequency ablation (RFA) using high-energy radio waves to heat where the kidney disease is situated.

Radio Frequency Ablation:

A thin, needle-like probe is placed through the skin and advanced until the end is in the tumour. Placement of the probe is guided by ultrasound or CT scans. Once it is in place, an electric current is passed through the probe, which heats the tumour and destroys the cancer cells. RFA is generally done as an outpatient process, using local (numbing medicine) or general (sleeping) anesthesia. Major complications are uncommon, but they can contain bleeding and damage to the kidneys or other nearby organs.


In cryotherapy great cold temperatures are used to destroy the tumour. A hollow probe (needle) is inserted into the tumour either through the skin (percutaneously) or during laparoscopy (key whole) cold gases are passed through the probe, creating an ice ball that destroys the tumour. To be sure the tumour is destroyed without too much damage to nearby tissues; the kidney specialist carefully watches images of the tumour during the procedure (with ultrasound) or measures tissue temperature. The type of anesthesia used for cryotherapy depends on how the process is being done

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