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Freezing Kidney Cancers Shows Promise
Date:3/13/2009

Study found noninvasive technique eradicated smaller tumors

FRIDAY, March 13 (HealthDay News) -- Most kidney cancer tumors can be eradicated using a noninvasive freezing technique that eliminates the need for surgery, a pair of studies from Johns Hopkins Hospital suggests.

The findings have prompted the researchers to claim that the procedure, known as cryoablation, should be the new "gold standard" of treatment for kidney cancer -- although not all cancer experts agree.

"Here we found that we can very successfully treat kidney cancer tumors, and get rid of them completely, by essentially freezing them," said the lead author of one of the two studies, Dr. Christos Georgiades, an interventional radiologist at Hopkins.

"The only caveat," he cautioned, "is that the data we have concerns treating kidney cancers that are smaller than 5 centimeters -- about 2 inches -- in diameter. But I would say that for tumors that are up to 4 centimeters in diameter, cryoablation -- freezing -- should be the first option for treatment, not surgery."

Georgiades and his colleagues presented the findings Monday at the Society of Interventional Radiology annual meeting in San Diego.

Cryoablation uses high-tech imaging to locate tumors, along with small probes inserted through a tiny hole in the skin to direct freezing cold to the trouble spot. It is usually performed as a one-day outpatient treatment and is already widely available in hospitals throughout the United States.

However, the Hopkins team pointed out that current protocols place solid emphasis on surgical removal (laparoscopy) as the standard approach to kidney cancer, with cryoablation relegated to a fallback role for high-risk patients who are battling multiple illnesses, limited kidney function or multiple or recurring tumors or who have problems undergoing anesthesia.

The study authors noted that kidney cancer strikes 54,000 America
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