This study looked at the survival of patients suitable for surgery who underwent percutaneous thermoablation as a first-line treatment for small renal masses (stage T1a).

Eighty-five patients who were suitable for surgery were included in the study. These patients had 97 kidney masses that were proven to be malignant (cancerous) with a biopsy (T1a). These small renal masses were treated with percutaneous thermoablation; a procedure where heat is passed down electrodes through the skin and used to destroy the tumour.

The average size of the tumour was 2.3 cm (range, 0.7-3.9 cm). Patients were followed up for a minimum of 2 years and local recurrence occurred in 4 patients (4.7%) at 8.5, 13.8, 58 and 64 months of follow-up. These recurrences were retreated successfully with percutaneous thermoablation. None of the patients developed metastatic renal cell carcinoma (RCC), and none died as a result of their cancer. The 5-year progression-free survival, overall survival, metastasis-free survival and cancer-specific survival were 93.0%, 98.4%, 100% and 100%, respectively. Only two patients (2.3%) had major complications as a result of the thermoablation; a stenosis (narrowing) of the ureter where it enters the kidney and urinary obstruction due to blood clots.

This study demonstrates that percutaneous thermoablation is a feasible and effective first-line therapy for patients with small renal masses (T1a) who are suitable for surgery.

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