Ablation for Kidney Cancer

Doctors at NYU Langone may use extreme cold to destroy kidney cancer tumors, a treatment called cryoablation. They are also studying the use of extreme heat using ultrasound or sound wave technology. Urologic oncologists and interventional radiologists work together to perform these procedures.


Doctors may use a procedure known as percutaneous cryoablation, in which small tumors are frozen and destroyed. It can be done as long as the tumors are easily accessible through the back or side of the body. This approach allows people who cannot have surgery because of poor health to receive treatment.

During the procedure, a doctor uses ultrasound or CT scans to find the tumor, then inserts several small needles into the tumor. A machine attached to the needles rapidly cools them until a ball of ice forms that freezes and destroys the cancer, as well as the blood vessels that feed it. The procedure spares the surrounding healthy tissue.

Your doctor can perform this procedure with a local anesthetic applied to the skin and sedation to help you relax. People usually go home within 24 hours of the procedure. They may experience some discomfort in the middle or lower portion of the back for a few days, which can be managed with medications.

Although this approach gives people who cannot have surgery a chance to treat the cancer, the tumor has a greater chance of recurring than with surgical procedures.

Clinical Trials

Doctors at NYU Langone are studying the use of high-intensity, focused ultrasound, a procedure that creates heat to destroy kidney cancer. A high-intensity ultrasound probe is placed through a small incision in the abdomen, which is made using robotic-assisted laparoscopic surgery. The probe helps doctors locate the tumor and then heats and destroys the cancer cells. The ultrasound images also enable doctors to watch the heat destroy the cancer tissue in real time.

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