Radiofrequency treatment for kidney cancer
This page tells you about radiofrequency ablation for kidney cancer. There is information about
Radiofrequency ablation for kidney cancer
Radiofrequency ablation (RFA) uses heat made by radiowaves to kill cancer cells. Radiofrequency is a type of electrical energy. The electrical energy heats up the tumour and kills the cancer cells. Doctors mainly use it for small kidney cancers in people who are not well enough to have surgery. They also use it to control symptoms caused by advanced kidney cancers. You can have it more than once if you need to.
Having radiofrequency ablation
You have RFA under local anaesthetic or general anaesthetic. The doctor passes small probes, like needles, through the skin and directly into the tumour. Radiofrequency energy passes through the probe, producing heat to destroy the tumour tissue. You may need to stay in hospital overnight afterwards.
Side effects of radiofrequency ablation
You may have some discomfort or pain in the treatment area for a few days. You may also have a slight temperature and feel a bit tired and weak. Your doctor will advise you to avoid strenuous activity until you have recovered.
A very small number of people have complications such as
- Bleeding in the treatment area
- Narrowing of the tube from the kidney to the bladder (the ureter)
- A collection of fluid near the kidney due to urine leakage
Radiofrequency ablation (RFA) uses heat made by radiowaves to kill cancer cells. Radiofrequency is a type of electrical energy that heats up the tumour and kills the cancer cells.
This treatment is only available in specialist cancer centres. You may have it if you have a small early stage kidney cancer and can't have surgery. Doctors also use it for people who have more than one small tumour or tumours in both kidneys. If you have advanced kidney cancer, RFA can help to shrink a tumour and control symptoms.
Whether RFA is a suitable for you depends on the exact position of the cancer in the kidney. You can't have it if the cancer is too close to other organs, such as the bowel.
You can have RFA more than once if you need to.
You have RFA under local anaesthetic or general anaesthetic. The doctor puts a small probe, like a needle, through the skin and into the tumour. You have a CT scan at the same time, to check that the probe is in exactly the right place. An electrode in the probe then creates radiofrequency energy to produce heat and destroy the tumour.
You may need to stay in hospital overnight afterwards.
You may have some discomfort or pain in the treatment area. Your doctor or nurse will give you painkillers to take for a few days. You may also have a slight temperature and feel tired and weak while you recover. You may need to take it easy and avoid any strenuous activity.
Other possible side effects of the treatment are bleeding or infection. Some people get a narrowing of the tube from the kidney to the bladder (ureter), causing problems with passing urine.
We have detailed information about radiofrequency ablation treatment.
You can contact our cancer information nurses or call them freephone from Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm on 0808 800 4040, and they would be happy to help.
If you want to find people to share experiences with online, you could use CancerChat – our online forum.
Our kidney cancer organisations page has details of organisations that can put you in touch with a cancer support group. Our kidney cancer reading list has information about books and leaflets about kidney cancer treatments.
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