Radiofrequency ablation is effective
long-term treatment for kidney tumors
Tumor control persists four to six
years, could be treatment of choice for certain patients
BOSTON - June 20, 2005 - Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH)
researchers have shown that radiofrequency ablation (RFA) - a minimally
invasive way of destroying tissue - is an effective, longlasting
treatment for small kidney tumors in selected patients. In a followup
published in 2003, the investigators found that RFA treatment
of renal cell carcinoma, the most common kidney cancer, continued
to be successful 4 to 6 years after administration. The report appears
in the July issue of the Journal of Urology.
"This study shows, for the first time, that this is a very
effective long-term treatment," says W. Scott McDougal, MD,
chief of Urology at MGH and lead author of the study. Renal cell
carcinoma will be diagnosed in almost 32,000 Americans this year
and is most frequently treated with surgical removal through either
an open or laparoscopic procedure.
RFA delivers heat generated by electrical energy to sites within
the body through a thin needle, similar to probes used in biopsy
procedures. Placement of the probe is guided by CT scan, ultrasound
or other imaging techniques. Widely used to treat cardiac arrhythmias,
RFA is also being investigated for destruction of small liver tumors
and has been used for more than ten years to treat a benign bone
tumor called osteoid osteoma.
For more than six years MGH physicians have been using RFA to treat
kidney tumors in patients for whom surgical removal was not an option
because of other health concerns. For the current study, the research
team reviewed information on 16 of the first patients treated with
the technique; three patients had multiple tumors, making a total
of 20 tumors treated.
In the four years following their treatment, five patients whose
treatment was initially successful died from causes unrelated to
kidney cancer. Of the 11 remaining patients, none had any recurrence
or metastasis of the kidney tumor 4 to 6 years after treatment.
Overall, treatment of all tumors on the surface of the kidney was
successful, as was the treatment of tumors deep within the kidney,
which sometimes requires additional treatments. Two patients had
what are called mixed tumors, and only one of them was treated successfully.
Although treatment of the other mixed-tumor patient did not reduce
the size of the lesion, that patient died of an unrelated brain
tumor a year after treatment.
McDougal adds that the MGH team now has used RFA to treat a total
of 100 renal cell carcinomas in 85 patients with similar results
- successful tumor destruction in 100 percent of surface tumors
and 78 percent of central tumors. "Right now, older patients
with small lesions in limited areas of their kidneys are good candidates
for this procedure. We need to wait for 10-year followup information
to determine whether it will be appropriate for patients with a
longer life expectancy." McDougal is the Walter S. Kerr, Jr.
Professor of Urology at Harvard Medical School.
The report's co-authors are Francis McGovern, MD, MGH Urology, and
Debra Gervais, MD, and Peter R. Mueller, MD, of the MGH Department
Massachusetts General Hospital, established in 1811, is the original
and largest teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School. The MGH
conducts the largest hospital-based research program in the United
States, with an annual research budget of more than $450 million
and major research centers in AIDS, cardiovascular research, cancer,
cutaneous biology, medical imaging, neurodegenerative disorders,
transplantation biology and photomedicine. In 1994, MGH and Brigham
and Women's Hospital joined to form Partners HealthCare System,
an integrated health care delivery system comprising the two academic
medical centers, specialty and community hospitals, a network of
physician groups, and nonacute and home health services.
Media Contact: Sue
McGreevey, MGH Public Affairs
Physician Referral Service: 1-800-388-4644
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