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NCCN Guidelines for Patients



Kidney Cancer, Version 1.2017

During active surveillance, your doctor will plan

a testing schedule for you. This may include

imaging tests, such as CT scans, MRI scans, and

ultrasound, every few months. But, these and other

tests may be given more or less often. The tests

and schedule will be based on a number of factors

specific to you. Such factors include your age, health,

personal wishes, and the size, appearance, and

growth rate of the tumor.

Thermal ablation

Thermal ablation is a type of treatment that uses

extreme cold or extreme heat to destroy cancer cells.

It can destroy small tumors with little harm to nearby

tissue. Thermal ablation may be used in certain

cases when surgery is not a good option. Surgery

may not be a good option for patients who are elderly

or have other serious health problems. Thermal

ablation works best for very small tumors—4 cm or


There are two main ways to “ablate” a kidney

tumor. Cryoablation kills cancer cells by freezing

them with a very cold gas such as liquid nitrogen.

Radiofrequency ablation kills cancer cells by heating

or “cooking” them with high-energy radio waves.

Both types of thermal ablation use a special needle—

called a probe—that is inserted into the tumor. With

cryoablation, the probe releases cold gases to

freeze the tumor and destroy it. With radiofrequency

ablation, the probe emits radio waves to heat the

tumor and destroy it.

The probe can be inserted through the skin and

guided into place with CT scans, ultrasound, or other

imaging tests. The probe can also be inserted and

guided into place during laparoscopic surgery.

Imaging tests are also used to monitor the tumor

during treatment to make sure the whole tumor

is destroyed. The probe will be removed when

treatment is done.

Thermal ablation may be done with local anesthesia

or general anesthesia. You may also be given a

sedative—medicine to help you relax. Possible side

effects of thermal ablation include bleeding and

damage to the kidney or nearby tissues.

Never let yourself believe anything

other than beating cancer is possible.

With faith, with hope, with fight, the

battle will be won.

- Chris


Overview of cancer treatments

Thermal ablation