Active Surveillance, Radiofrequency Ablation, or Cryoablation for the Nonsurgical Management of a Small Renal Mass: A Cost-Utility Analysis
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BACKGROUND: Patients with a cortical small (≤4 cm) renal mass often are not candidates for or choose not to undergo surgery. The optimal management strategy for such patients is unclear. METHODS: A decision-analytic Markov model was developed from the perspective of a third party payer to compare the quality-adjusted life expectancy and lifetime costs for 67-year-old patients with a small renal mass undergoing premanagement decision biopsy, immediate percutaneous radiofrequency ablation or percutaneous cryoablation (without premanagement biopsy), or active surveillance with serial imaging and subsequent ablation if needed. RESULTS: The dominant strategy (most effective and least costly) was active surveillance with subsequent cryoablation if needed. On a quality-adjusted and discounted basis, immediate cryoablation resulted in a similar life expectancy (3 days fewer) but cost $3,010 more. This result was sensitive to the relative rate of progression to metastatic disease. Strategies that employed radiofrequency ablation had decreased quality-adjusted life expectancies (82-87 days fewer than the dominant strategy) and higher costs ($3,231-$6,398 more). CONCLUSIONS: Active surveillance with delayed percutaneous cryoablation, if needed, may be a safe and cost-effective alternative to immediate cryoablation. The uncertainty in the relative long-term rate of progression to metastatic disease in patients managed with active surveillance versus immediate cryoablation needs to be weighed against the higher cost of immediate cryoablation. A randomized trial is needed directly to evaluate the nonsurgical management of patients with a small renal mass, and could be limited to the most promising strategies identified in this analysis.
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