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Surgery for kidney cancer

surgical oncology

What is surgery?

Surgery is used to diagnose, stage and treat cancer, and to manage certain cancer-related symptoms. At Cancer Treatment Centers of America® (CTCA), our experienced surgeons have performed thousands of procedures and will discuss the surgical options that are best suited to your individual needs.

Whether a patient is a candidate for surgery or not depends on factors such as the type, size, location, grade and stage of the tumor, as well as general health factors such as age, physical fitness and other coexisting medical conditions the patient may have.

For many patients, surgery will be combined with other cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy or hormone therapy. These nonsurgical treatments may be administered before surgery (neoadjuvant therapy) or after surgery (adjuvant therapy) to help prevent cancer growth, spread or recurrence.

Early in the treatment planning process, we plan for and proactively manage anticipated side effects from surgery. Our nutritionists, rehabilitation therapists and naturopathic clinicians work together with your surgical oncologist to support healing and quality of life. Our reconstructive surgeons perform procedures to restore the body's appearance and function when needed, at the time of surgery or following surgery.

Surgical oncology

Video: Surgical Oncology

Surgical Oncology

Surgery for kidney cancer

Surgery is the first-line treatment for most renal cell carcinoma patients at CTCA. Depending on the type and stage of the disease, we may perform a variety of procedures. We may also remove nearby fatty tissue to test for the presence of cancer.

Surgical procedures

Radical nephrectomy

During a radical nephrectomy, your surgical oncologist removes the entire affected kidney. Often, the adrenal gland is also removed if it is involved with, or very close to, the tumor. During this type of surgery, your oncologist may make incisions in the abdomen, under the ribs, or in the back to remove the entire kidney.

Laparoscopic radical nephrectomy (LRN)

For most patients, our surgical oncology experts perform an LRN instead of a radical nephrectomy because it requires less recovery time and causes less bleeding. An LRN is performed by making a few small incisions, instead of one large incision. One of the incisions will be slightly larger than the others to allow the kidney to pass through. Once the incisions are made, your surgical oncologist uses a laparoscope (long tube with small camera attached to the end) to help guide removal of the kidney.

Partial nephrectomy

We perform this type of kidney cancer surgery when it is important to preserve kidney function. This includes people who have cancer in both kidneys, low kidney function, or people with one kidney. During this procedure, your surgical oncologist removes only the part of the kidney that contains cancer. Your surgical oncologist may recommend this surgery even if these issues don’t pertain to you, to maintain as much kidney function as possible.

If kidney cancer has metastasized, your treatment team may combine surgery with targeted therapy or immunotherapy. Your team of doctors will assess every aspect of your disease and choose the best course of treatment accordingly, knowing that each individual is different and has unique needs.

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