A Critical Analysis of the Actual Role of Minimally Invasive Surgery and Active Surveillance for Kidney Cancer

Roman Heuer, Inderbir S. Gill, Giorgio Guazzoni, Ziya Kirkali, Michael Marberger, Jerome P. Richie, Jean J M C H de la Rosette

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Context: The incidence of renal cell carcinomas (RCCs) has increased steadily-most rapidly for small renal masses (SRMs). Paralleling the changing face of RCC in the past 2 decades, new, less invasive surgical options have been developed. Laparoscopic radical nephrectomy (LRN) is an established procedure for the treatment of RCC. Treatment of SRMs includes open partial nephrectomy (OPN), laparoscopic partial nephrectomy (LPN), thermal ablation, and active surveillance. Objective: To present an overview of minimally invasive treatment options and data on surveillance for kidney cancer. Evidence acquisition: Literature and meeting abstracts were searched using the terms renal cell carcinoma, minimally invasive surgery, laparoscopic surgery, thermal ablation, surveillance, and robotic surgery. The articles with the highest level of evidence were identified with the consensus of all the collaborative authors and reviewed. Evidence synthesis: Renal insufficiency, as measured by the glomerular filtration rate, occurs more often after radical nephrectomy than partial nephrectomy (PN). OPN and LPN show comparable results in long-term oncologic outcomes. The treatment modality for SRMs should therefore be nephron-sparing surgery (NSS). In select patients, thermal ablation or active surveillance of SRMs is an alternative. Conclusions: LRN has become the standard of care for most organ-confined tumours not amenable to NSS. Amongst NSS options, PN is the treatment of choice, yet remains underutilised in the community. Initial data during its learning curve revealed that LPN had higher urologic morbidity. However, current emerging data indicate that in experienced hands, LPN has shorter ischaemia times, a lower complication rate, and equivalent long-term oncologic and renal functional outcomes, yet with decreased patient morbidity compared to OPN. Robotic partial nephrectomy is being explored at select centres, and cryotherapy and radiofrequency ablation are options for carefully selected tumours. Active surveillance is an option for selected high-risk patients. Percutaneous needle biopsy is likely to gain increasing relevance in the management of small renal tumours.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)223-232
Number of pages10
JournalEuropean Urology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2010


  • Laparoscopic surgery
  • Minimally invasive surgery
  • Renal cell carcinoma
  • Robotic surgery
  • Surveillance
  • Thermal ablation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Urology


Dive into the research topics of 'A Critical Analysis of the Actual Role of Minimally Invasive Surgery and Active Surveillance for Kidney Cancer'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this