Kidney Cancer: Decrease the Temperature, Raise Awareness
From kayaking through the Everglades to backpacking around the Grand Canyon, 61-year-old Bob Wisneski enjoys adventuring around the country and embracing the outdoors.
Bob thrives in warm weather, yet freezing temperatures changed his life when he was 59 years old.
While at an appointment to address his gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) in 2019, Bob’s primary care doctor sent him for a variety of scans. Incidentally, the CT scan of his abdomen revealed a spot on his kidney. Bob’s physician referred him to Padraic O'Malley, MD, MSc, FRCSC, as he was championed “as the premiere urologist to see.”
O’Malley, a urology surgeon at UF Health, confirmed the spot to be a stage 1 tumor of 1.1 centimeters, and Bob’s kidney cancer treatment journey began.
They discussed the options. They could observe it. They could surgically remove it. They could treat it with percutaneous cryoablation.
“Percutaneous cryoablation is essentially like a freeze gun for kidney masses,” O’Malley said. “When the masses are small, cryoablation is essentially as effective as surgery to remove the tumor but less invasive, less risky and has a quicker recovery time.”
Given his active health and the small size of his tumor, Bob opted for this innovative procedure. O’Malley joined forces with Jeffrey Vogel, MD, an assistant professor in the department of radiology at the UF College of Medicine. As Bob’s interventional radiologist, Vogel brought an abundance of experience in treating kidney cancer patients and performs several cryoablation procedures every week.
“It’s a process in which extremely cold temperatures are used to destroy target tissue,” Vogel said. “Cryoablation needles, connected to a cryoablation system, are used to conduct repeated cycles of freezing and thawing … as freezing continues, ice balls coalesce and completely engulf the target tissue.”
Although still in shock about his kidney cancer diagnosis, Bob found comfort in this cold course of action.
“I didn’t worry about it,” he said. “I had full faith and confidence in cryoablation because it was explained to me so well by Dr. O’Malley and his staff … the staff was just magnificent.”
Bob believes he was able to transmit that confidence to his 86-year-old mother. At the time, he feared how his circumstances could worry her, but the encouragement he received from his many UF Health caretakers allowed her to find peace in the process.
From the walk-throughs in the beginning, follow-ups at the end and the support throughout, Bob deems his kidney cancer treatment at UF Health Shands Hospital as “one of the most positive experiences” he’s had in terms of health care.
Two years after his initial diagnosis, Bob is cancer-free and back to his regular outdoor excursions. His cryoablation treatment is over, yet his gratitude remains infinite.
“To anybody I run across, whether they have an issue with cancer or whether I know anything about their health concerns, I just rave about the staff at UF Health and the health care providers that were in my corner.”