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For patients not likely to tolerate surgery well, several non-surgical interventions have shown to be effective.

  • Blocking tumor blood flow

Known as embolization, a special filler material is injected into the major blood vessels serving the tumor, depriving the tumor of oxygen and nutrients.  This procedure might be used in advance of surgery, or to relieve pain or bleeding in patients for whom surgery is not appropriate.

  • Tumor freezing

Using X-ray imaging for guidance, super-cooled nitrogen gas is pumped to the tumor site with a specialized needle freeze and kill the tumor's cancer cells. The procedure is known as cryoablation.  Since little long term data exists to completely assess this procedure's safety and effectiveness, cryoablation is usually reserved for patients who are not good surgical candidates, and those whose tumors can be easily reached with a needle.

  • Tumor burning

In a procedure called radiofrequency ablation, a special needle is inserted directly into your kidney tumor. X-ray imaging is used for guidance.  An electrical current is applied through the needle and into the cancer cells. The heat generated causes the tumor to cauterize. Like cryoablation, little long term data exists to completely assess the safety and effectiveness of radiofrequency ablation.  As a result, it's an option usually only offered to poor surgery candidates, and those with easily accessible tumors. 

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