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Scientists at the Keck Medical Centre of the University of Southern California have found a way that patients could be admitted to hospital, treated for their kidney cancer, and leave in the same day.
Surgeons at the medical centre became some of the first doctors to use a high-intensity ultrasound machine to treat a kidney cancer tumour in 62 year-old Gary Fradkin’s body. Mr Fradkin, who is a keen windsurfer, feared he would be inactive for weeks after having the innovative robotic surgery, as would be the usual case with an individual with his condition. However, doctors told him that a new scientific procedure would allow him to go home just a couple of hours after having the operation.
“Summer is almost over. I have got to get whatever wind-surfing left I can in the season, so I am happy. “ Mr Fradkin commented.
Gary Fradkin is taking part in a clinical trial which is using high-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) to destroy cancerous tumours. Dr Inderbir Gill, a leader for the trial says the process usually starts by making an incision a centimetre wide, before inserting a robotic device into the abdomen, which then finds the tumour and kills it. It sounds simple, but this is actually pretty advanced stuff.
The tumour isn’t completely removed after the treatment – the ultrasound waves don’t abolish it, but instead it just slowly dissolves over time. During the length of the trial, scientists will be analysing how long it takes for the entire tumour to dissolve completely.
Dr Gill stated, “That’s what is so exciting, is that to our knowledge for the first time, a kidney tumour has been ablated using high intensity focused ultrasound as monotherapy, without any additional treatment. And allowing us to do this cuts down on the operative time, decreases the blood loss, decreases the chances of complications, preserves kidney function all whilst killing the kidney tumour and allowing the patient to go home the same day.”
Speaking of the traditional approach to riding a person of kidney cancer, Dr Gill added, “We would stop the blood supply to the kidney. We would cut out the tumour, then we would suture and repair the kidney, restore blood supply to the kidney, that is a reasonable undertaking and leads to a reasonable amount of blood loss and a significant hospital stay to make sure everything is good before letting him go home and even then they’ll tell him to ‘go easy for a month!’. “