A study looking at treatments for small kidney cancers (SURAB)

Please note - this trial is no longer recruiting patients. We hope to add results when they are available.

Cancer type:

Kidney cancer
Renal cell carcinoma





This study is looking at the possibility of doing a larger trial to compare different ways of treating small kidney cancers. It will look at monitoring the cancer (active surveillance) and killing the cancer cells using radio waves, microwaves or freezing (ablative treatment).

More about this trial

Some kidney cancers are found when they are very small. These cancers usually grow very slowly. Rather than treat it straight away, your doctor may want to watch the cancer carefully to see if it grows. This is called monitoring kidney cancer or active surveillance.

If your cancer continues to grow, your doctor may suggest you have surgery to remove the cancer or treatment to kill the cancer cells (ablative treatment). There are 3 ways of killing the cancer cells

Cryotherapy kills the cancer cells by freezing them. Radiofrequency ablation uses radio waves to kill the cancer cells with heat. Microwave ablation is similar to radiofrequency ablation but uses microwaves to kill the cancer cells with heat.

These treatments can treat the cancer without having to remove a part of your kidney. But doctors don’t know if it is better to use the treatments when the cancer is small or wait until it grows a bit bigger. To find this out, researchers need to compare ablative treatment with active surveillance in a large randomised trial Open a glossary item.

The aim of this study is to see if it is possible to do a larger trial to compare active surveillance with ablative treatment.

Who can enter

You may be able to join this study if all of the following apply. You

  • Have kidney cancer that is less than 4 cm across
  • Are otherwise generally fit and healthy
  • Are at least 18 years old

You cannot join this study if any of these apply. You

  • Have had a scan that shows your cancer has spread to your tummy (abdomen) or chest
  • Have a problem with how your blood clots and this can’t be controlled with medication
  • Have any other medical or mental health problem that your doctors think may affect you taking part

Trial design

This is a feasibility study. The researchers need 60 people to join. It is a randomised study. The people taking part are put into 1 of 2 groups. Neither you nor your doctor will be able to choose which group you are in.

The people in one group will be carefully monitored and later on may have surgery to remove their cancer if needed. This is called monitoring your cancer or active surveillance.

The people in the other group will have ablative treatment while their cancer is still small. Depending on which hospital you have treatment at, this could be

• Radiofrequency ablation
• Cryotherapy
• Microwave ablation Open a glossary item


The study team will ask you to fill out a few short questionnaires before you start treatment and then at 3 and 6 months after your treatment. The questionnaires will ask about side effects and how you’ve been feeling. This is called a quality of life study.

Getting the views of patients is very important and can help the trial team to make any future trial a better experience for patients who take part. So the study team will ask if you would be happy to be interviewed. They would like to talk to you even if you decide not to join the study.

If you do join the study they will ask about your experience of taking part. If you don’t join, they will ask why you decided not to take part. The interview will take about 30 minutes to an hour. For people who live in Newcastle this can be done at your home or by phone. For people who live outside of Newcastle this will be done on the phone. With your permission the researcher will make an audio recording of the interview. Even though your interview will be recorded you will not be personally named in the researchers' report.

Hospital visits

You see the doctor and have some tests before taking part in this study. The tests include

If you are having cryoablation or radiofrequency ablation you will have a minimum of one night stay in hospital. Occasionally this may be longer, but the doctor will talk to you about this in the clinic.

Everybody sees the study team again after 3 months and 6 months. The people who had ablation will have a scan at 3 months. Everybody will have a scan at 6 months.

Just after the 6 month visit, people who had radiofrequency ablation, microwave ablation or cryotherapy will have a small piece of tissue taken from their kidney (a biopsy) Open a glossary item.

Side effects

The study team looking after you will give you detailed written information about the complications and side effects of your treatment.

We have information about

Recruitment start:

Recruitment end:

How to join a clinical trial

Please note: In order to join a trial you will need to discuss it with your doctor, unless otherwise specified.

Please note - unless we state otherwise in the summary, you need to talk to your doctor about joining a trial.

Chief Investigator

Mr Naeem Soomro

Supported by

Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre (ECMC)
NIHR Health Technology Assessment (HTA) programme
The Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

Questions about cancer? Contact our information nurses

Freephone 0808 800 4040

Last review date

CRUK internal database number:


Please note - unless we state otherwise in the summary, you need to talk to your doctor about joining a trial.

Charlie took part in a trial to try new treatments

A picture of Charlie

“I think it’s really important that people keep signing up to these type of trials to push research forward.”

Last reviewed:

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