Ablation (the removal of tissue) may be chosen as a secondary treatment if new kidney tumours grow after a nephrectomy or partial nephrectomy. Currently, they are not often used as a first treatment. There are several types of ablation:
Radio Frequency and Cryoablation
Radio Frequency Ablation (RFA) is a technique that uses extreme heat to kill kidney cancer tumours while they are still in the kidney. A probe is inserted into the tumour and radiowaves passed through it, causing an increase in temperature.
Cryoablation uses cold temperatures to destroy the tumours. A few years ago, reports were published giving cryoablation the edge over Radio Frequency Ablation due to fewer instances of recurrence in the kidney area that was treated; however there have since been improvements in RFA equipment.
Ultrasound Ablation is a technique that allows for a quick, highly targeted treatment. The low-intensity ultrasound can pass through healthy tissue without damaging it; then, at the targeted tumour site, the ultrasound reaches high intensity which increases the temperature and destroys the tissue. This technique is believed to work better than other thermal/heat ablations as the temperature increase is quicker and more focused, thereby destroying less healthy tissue. Although this is a relatively new technique, the technology is improving rapidly and it has the potential to become a widely used treatment.
Microwave Ablation uses very high temperatures to remove tissue and works very quickly. A thin microwave antenna is guided to the tumour using imaging techniques and microwave energy heats the tissue. This procedure can be used in open or laparoscopic surgery or even through the skin.