The study involved people with a renal (kidney) cell carcinoma -- the most common type of kidney cancer in adults.
Researchers led by Dr. Rosaleen Parsons, of Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia, noted that incidence and death rates of the disease have climbed in recent decades.
But they added that so-called "image-guided" core-needle biopsy of kidney masses is increasingly being used to determine the best treatment approaches for individual patients.
In their study, Parsons' team researchers tracked outcomes for patients who collectively underwent 374 kidney mass biopsies between 1999 and 2015.
Core-needle biopsy -- meaning that a tiny amount of tissue is removed using a hollow needle -- was performed in 65 percent of patient biopsies, and 41 percent of those patients also had surgery for their kidney cancer.
According to the study, core-needle biopsy led to accurate diagnosis of renal cell carcinoma in 94 percent of patients who had surgery.
These biopsies also identified benign tumors in 11 percent of patients who could then receive ongoing monitoring -- instead of unnecessary surgery, the researchers said.
"These findings showed that renal mass biopsy is effective in evaluating renal masses," and should be used to help guide treatment decisions, Parsons, chair of diagnostic imaging at Fox Chase, said in a center news release.
However, the researchers did find that renal mass biopsy led to inaccurate classification of tumor stage (how advanced the tumor was) in 37 percent of patients who had surgery, putting them at risk for under-treatment. Also, 30 percent of patients who had biopsies and then surgery potentially had low-risk tumors, which means they may have been better off receiving ongoing monitoring instead of surgery.
The study is to be presented March 17 at the annual meeting of the Society of Abdominal Radiology in Hawaii. Experts note that findings presented at medical meetings are typically considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.More information
The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more on kidney cancer.
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