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New Kidney Cancer Therapy Shows Promise

Minimally invasive procedure 'cooks' tumor

THURSDAY, July 1, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- A minimally invasive technique called radiofrequency ablation is a promising treatment for people with kidney cancer that hasn't spread.

Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center researchers report the good news in the July issue of the American Journal of Roentgenology.

The three-year study of 22 kidney cancer patients found that complete tumor elimination was achieved after a single treatment in 83 percent of the patients. Another 8 percent of the patients had complete tumor elimination after at least two treatments with radiofrequency ablation.

None of the patients experienced serious or long-term complications, the study found.

In this procedure, computed tomography is used to guide a needle-shaped electrode into the tumor. A radiofrequency current is then passed through the electrode to heat the tumor and destroy it.

"These results are significant and encouraging because the incidence of kidney cancer in the United States has increased 126 percent over the past 50 years," principal investigator Ronald J. Zagoria, a professor of radiologic sciences at Wake Forest, said in a prepared statement.

For decades, the standard of care for kidney cancer has been kidney removal. More recently, removal of affected areas of the kidney have shown to be effective in treating small low-stage kidney cancer. But that kind of surgery is not suitable for many patients, such as those who can't have surgery due to other health-related conditions.

"Radiofrequency ablation offers us another potentially curative option for appropriate patients," Zagoria said.

More studies are needed to determine the long-term success of radiofrequency ablation.

More information

The American Cancer Society has more about kidney cancer.

SOURCE: Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center, news release, July 1, 2004
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