Watchful waiting for small renal masses
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Small renal masses (SRMs; < 4 cm in diameter) account for most renal tumors treated today. Incidental early detection of SRMs by abdominal imaging results in favorable grade and stage migration to renal cell carcinoma, and also increases detection of benign renal tumors. As a result, most SRMs manifest indolent biological behavior with excellent prognosis. Despite the increased use of minimally invasive laparoscopic surgery, nephron-sparing techniques, and percutaneous ablation therapy, selected patients are managed by initial active surveillance, reserving therapy for progression. Older patients and those with competing risks due to medical comorbidities are excellent candidates for active surveillance; their risk of early progression due to growth or metastases appears to be low. Active surveillance should not be recommended for younger, healthier patients until prognostic factors are better defined. Needle core use for improved histopathologic characterization of SRMs should be considered before recommending treatment.
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