Active surveillance of renal masses, which includes serial imaging with the possibility of delayed treatment, has emerged as a viable alternative to immediate therapeutic intervention in selected patients. Active surveillance is supported by evidence that many benign masses are resected unnecessarily, and treatment of small cancers has not substantially reduced cancer-specific mortality. These data are a call to radiologists to improve the diagnosis of benign renal masses and differentiate cancers that are biologically aggressive (prompting treatment) from those that are indolent (allowing treatment deferral). Current evidence suggests that active surveillance results in comparable cancer-specific survival with a low risk of developing metastasis. Radiology is central in this. Imaging is used at the outset to estimate the probability of malignancy and degree of aggressiveness in malignant masses and to follow up masses for growth and morphologic change. Percutaneous biopsy is used to provide a more definitive histologic diagnosis and to guide treatment decisions, including whether active surveillance is appropriate. Emerging applications that may improve imaging assessment of renal masses include standardized assessment of cystic and solid masses and radiomic analysis. This article reviews the current and future role of radiology in the care of patients with renal masses undergoing active surveillance.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging