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Microwaving tumors: New procedure knocks out kidney cancer without surgery

 

As the war on cancer rages on, new technology is making it easier for doctors to remove tumors without invasive surgery.

When Rory Kleinman, 42, sought medical attention for stomach issues in 2012, he had no idea that routine scans would reveal a more serious problem.

“What happened was they were looking for something specific to do with my stomach, and through an MRI they then saw something – a nodule on my liver – and so they had me do a subsequent MRI to check that,” Kleinman told FoxNews.com. “The nodule was fine, but in that second MRI they saw that there was a tiny spot that was on my kidney.”

That tiny spot on Kleinman’s kidney turned out to be a tumor.

“I just felt shell shocked,” said Kleinman. “I just never thought that I would have cancer at a young age; if I was going to get it, I figured I would get it later in life.”

For many years, renal tumors required partial or total removal of the kidney. Doctors would take a biopsy of the tumor to see if it was cancer and then decide how much of the kidney to remove. But a new procedure called microwave ablation can be done without surgery, and at the same time as the biopsy.

“Microwave ablation is a technique used to heat tumors,” Dr. Aaron Fischman, assistant professor of radiology and surgery at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City told FoxNews.com. “We're able to actually place a needle directly to the tumor and kill it without actually removing it or making an incision.”

Patients are put under conscious sedation while a microwave antenna is fed through a biopsy needle. After a piece of the tumor is removed for testing, Fischman and his team use medical imaging to help place the tip of the antenna directly inside the tumor.

“The biggest benefit in my mind, and most of the patients will probably tell you, that they don't have to have surgery,” said Fischman. “So we're able to do this procedure with no incision. We just put a needle directly into the kidney itself, and ablate it, so the recovery time is less, the complication rate is theoretically less because the risk of bleeding is less without having a major surgery.”

Microwave ablation is used to treat tumors in the liver, kidneys and lungs. Doctors at Mount Sinai have seen success rates of 90 to 95 percent in their patients who undergo the procedure, Fischman said.

“Since this is a minor procedure, the risks are minimal,” he said. “The most common thing that people can see is minor bleeding or some pain at the site where the needle went in, and usually, this goes away in a day or two after the procedure.”

For Kleinman, the ease of the procedure has made cancer a distant memory.

“Literally, I had the procedure done and a few days later I was back at work – I really haven't thought that much about it,” said Kleinman. “I like that I don't have to look at a scar so that it reminds me that I had this procedure done.”

For more information visit MountSinai.org.