Kidney Cancer

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Kidney Cancer Treatment

As with most cancers, treatment for kidney cancer is based on your histology (cell type) and stage. The mainstays of management strategies include surveillance, ablative therapy and surgical resection. Radiation and chemotherapy are reserved for advanced disease.

Surveillance
Most kidney cancers are diagnosed at an early stage and small size. As a result, there is a growing trend to offer surveillance (close observation) of these masses to avoid over treatment and the potential for complications from treatment. Not all patients or masses are appropriate for surveillance, as it is typically reserved for more frail individuals for whom surgery would be difficult. Surveillance is usually initiated with a kidney biopsy to help diagnose and track the cancer over time.

Ablative Therapy
For certain kidney masses/cancers, ablative therapy is an option. Ablation of a mass involves placing a needle into it through the skin and then either super heating or cooling the mass to destroy the cancer cells. Ablative therapy offers the advantages of being minimally invasive and has very few complications.

However, ablative therapy does carry a higher failure rate than surgery and may require multiple treatments to cure your cancer. Also, failure of ablative therapy can make subsequent surgery more difficult, if required. Finally, not all masses/cancers are amenable to ablative therapy based either on size or location of the tumor. Make sure to ask your doctor if ablation is an option for you.

Surgery
Traditionally, kidney cancer was treated with a large, open incision to remove the entire kidney. Advances in laparoscopic and robotic technology have shifted the paradigm for the surgical management of kidney cancer from open to laparoscopic/robotic surgery and from entire removal of the kidney to removal of the mass only.

If you have a mass found on your kidney, make sure you ask your doctor to perform nephron sparing surgery (kidney preserving surgery), if possible. You should also inquire about your doctor's ability to do this laparoscopically.

Finally, you should inquire about your surgeon's outcomes. Specifically, you should ask to know your surgeon's outcomes with respect to surgical margins, recurrence rates and conversion to open surgery or removal of the entire kidney. If your doctor is unable to offer either minimally invasive or kidney preserving surgery, or is unable to tell you his/her outcome results, make sure to get a second opinion with a physician who is specialty trained in this area.

Our fellowship-trained robotic urologic oncologists at UT Health have expertise in the most up-to-date and cutting edge surgical therapy for kidney cancer. Utilizing the robotic platform, our specialists can often spare the affected kidney by only removing the mass and repairing the defect in the kidney (insert video of partial nephrectomy here). Their advanced surgical techniques and outcomes have been recognized by their peers at national medical meetings.

To schedule an appointment with a kidney cancer specialist, call 419.383.6644.

Last Updated: 6/1/16