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 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.
Overview of cancer treatments