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A Journal on Nephrology and Urology

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Minerva Urologica e Nefrologica 2011 September;63(3):237-50

language: English

Ablative therapies in renal cell carcinoma

Chan A. A. 1, Ahrar K. 2, Matin S. F. 3

1 Chief Resident, Department of Urology, The University of Texas MD Anderson , Cancer Center, Houston, TX, USA
2 Division of Interventional Radiology, Department of Diagnostic Imaging, University of Texas MD Anderson, Cancer Center, Houston, TX, USA;
3 Department of Urology, University of Texas MD Anderson , Cancer Center, Houston, TX, USA


We reviewed the use of ablative therapies in the management of renal cell carcinoma. We performed a PubMed search of the English language literature using the keywords “ablation” and “renal carcinoma.” Pertinent articles specific to the technologic advancement of ablative therapy and clinical outcomes were selected for review. Intermediate-term oncologic outcomes of cryoablation and radiofrequency ablation are acceptable but are not quite as good as for surgical excision based nearly all on retrospective studies. No randomized studies have been performed comparing excisional and ablative therapies. Careful selection of patients and tumor characteristics results in improved outcomes. Diagnostic biopsy for tissue confirmation is mandatory and should even be considered post therapy after 6-12 months in patients with a concern about recurrence. Ablative therapies are associated with decreased morbidity, less severe complication rates, and excellent preservation of renal function in comparison with surgical excision. The majority of recurrences occur early, but long-term surveillance is required as delayed recurrences are also possible and the long-term oncologic efficacy is not yet established. Ablation can be delivered percutaneously or laparoscopically, and the superiority of one over the other remains controversial. The percutaneous approach is more cost effective and causes less perinephric desmoplasia. Nearly all data on ablation are retrospective and, with few exceptions, from single institutions. Ablative therapy is an appealing option for the management of small renal tumors shown to be renal cell carcinoma on biopsy in patients who are unsuitable candidates for surgical extirpation.

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