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Kidney Cancer Ablation

Ablation refers to destroying cancerous cells of a tumor with the use of energy. The most common forms of ablation are freezing (cryoablation) or burning (radiofrequency ablation). However, radiation, chemicals, microwave and laser technologies may be used for ablation. Ablation can be performed percutaneously (through the skin) or via surgical exposure (open or laparoscopic surgery).

In percutaneous ablation, an experienced interventional radiologist places a needle through the skin in the back and into the tumor. This is done under CT scan or ultrasound guidance. The ablation machine is then turned on and the tumor is destroyed. At Johns Hopkins, percutaneous ablation is typically an outpatient procedure that does not require general anesthesia.

The benefits of ablation include low side effects and an outpatient procedure. However, the cure rate from a single ablation may not be as high as after surgical removal of the mass, and multiple ablation treatments may be required. In addition, not all tumors are suitable for ablation, and thus a discussion with a kidney cancer expert regarding all options is always best.

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