Renal cell carcinoma (RCC) accounts for 3% of all cancers in adults. The indications for Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA) for renal carcinomas include T1a (tumor 4 cm or less, limited to the kidney), elderly patients, renal impairment, comorbidities, poor surgical candidate, and multiple bilateral renal masses. We retrospectively reviewed medical records, specifically investigating the indications, complications and outcomes of RFA and nephrectomy for treatment of RCC in a tertiary medical center with a predominantly Hispanic patient population. Forty-nine patients with RCC were evaluated. Nine patients had RFA, 9 had partial nephrectomy and 31 had radical nephrectomy. All patients among the 3 groups had stage T1N0M0 RCC at diagnosis. Tumor recurrence was observed in 2 (22%) patients that had RFA, one (11%) patient that had partial nephrectomy and no patients that had radical nephrectomy. One patient had recurrence of the tumor at the opposite kidney pole from the initial RFA site 4 years later. This particular patient did not have any tumor recurrence at the site of the initial RFA. A second RFA was performed on the recurrent tumor with no recurrence upon subsequent follow up visits. The second patient had recurrence of the RCC on 1 year follow that was discovered to be sarcomatoid RCC, which is an aggressive type with a poor prognosis. Our results support the clinical utility of RFA in patients with stage T1 RCC who are poor surgical candidates or those with reduced renal function. The clinical utility of RFA as an equally effective approach when compared to partial nephrectomy in patients with stage T1 RCC that meet strict indications for the procedure. The treatment choice should be individualized and based on the characteristics of the renal tumor such as size, location and histological type of RCC. We conclude that RFA presents a safe treatment choice for patients with RCC if long term follow up is maintained.
Keywords: nephrectomy; radiofrequency ablation; renal cell carcinoma.