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33MD for March 13, 2009

POSTED: Friday, March 13, 2009 - 5:40pm

UPDATED: Thursday, June 3, 2010 - 10:57pm

No scars, no long recovery. There’s now a way for doctors to treat kidney cancer by using just a needle to destroy tumors. Kidney cancer patient Steven Cummings explains, “Well, you feel pretty scared because nobody wants to hear that you’ve got cancer.” It was the news Steven Cummings never expected. Doctors found a small tumor during a routine scan for kidney stones. “They told me I was facing what they call a partial nafrectomy. They were going to go in and cut out a piece of my kidney along with the tumor.”

Typically, recovery from this kind of surgery ranges from 4 to 6 weeks, times that Steven couldn’t spare. So, he decided to do some research and that’s when he came across Dr. Jamie Landman. “Instead of actually cutting out the tumor, we can actually stick a needle in it. And there's two different forms of ablative therapy one is called radio-frequency ablation or burning of the tumor and the other one's called cryoblation where we freeze the tumor."

In October 2008, Steven underwent cyroblation, which is one of the least invasive techniques. By using a cat-scanning machine, Dr. Landman was able to pinpoint the exact location of the tumor. “If you have the right tumor in the right place you can cure cancer with literally making a pinhole.” With no scars you can barely tell he had surgery. “Probably, within three days I felt like as if I didn’t have anything done, there wasn’t even any bruising.” Now, almost four months after the procedure Steven is cancer-free.

A new kind of cancer treatment is showing promising results. The treatment is called electro-chemotherapy. It uses electric beams to shoot chemotherapy drugs directly into cancer cells. Tests carried out at a hospital in Denmark showed that tumors treated with this method disappeared in three out of four cases.