Long-term outcomes of renal tumor radio frequency ablation stratified by tumor diameter: Size matters

Sara L. Best, Samuel K. Park, Ramy F. Yaacoub, Ephrem O. Olweny, Yung K. Tan, Clayton K Trimmer, Jeffrey A Cadeddu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

99 Scopus citations


Purpose: Renal tumor size influences the efficacy of radio frequency ablation but identification of confident size cutoffs has been limited by small numbers and short followup. We evaluated tumor size related outcomes after radio frequency ablation for patients with adequate (greater than 3 years) followup. Materials and Methods: We identified 159 tumors treated with radio frequency ablation as primary treatment. Disease-free survival was defined as the time from definitive treatment to local recurrence, detection of metastasis or the most recent imaging showing no evidence of disease. Patients were evaluated with contrast enhancing imaging preoperatively, and at 6 weeks, 6 months and at least annually thereafter. Results: Median tumor size was 2.4 cm (range 0.9 to 5.4) with a median followup of 54 months (range 1.5 to 120). Renal cell carcinoma was confirmed in 72% of the 150 tumors that had pre-ablation biopsy (94%). The 3 and 5-year disease-free survival was comparable at 92% and 91% overall, and was dependent on tumor size, being 96% and 95% for tumors smaller than 3.0 cm and 79% and 79%, respectively, for tumors 3 cm or larger (p = 0.001). Most failures (14 of 18) were local, either incomplete ablations or local recurrences. This is an intent to treat analysis and, therefore, includes patients ultimately found to have benign tumors, although outcomes were comparable in patients with cancer. Conclusions: Radio frequency ablation treatment success of the small renal mass is strongly correlated with tumor size. Radio frequency ablation provides excellent and durable outcomes, particularly in tumors smaller than 3 cm. Of tumors 3 cm or larger, approximately 20% will recur such that alternative treatment techniques should be considered. However, most treatment failures are local and are often successfully treated with another ablation session.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1183-1189
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Urology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2012


  • ablation techniques
  • carcinoma, renal cell
  • treatment outcome

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Urology


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