Kidney cancer, also called renal cancer, is a disease in which kidney cells begin to grow out of control and form a tumor. An estimated 25,000 patients are diagnosed with kidney cancer annually. Kidney cancer is a common urologic malignancy that is highly curable if caught in the early stages.
Our highly experienced urologists are trained in the most advanced treatments of kidney cancer, including minimally invasive robotic surgery, aimed at optimizing each patient’s quality of life. To make an appointment with one of our kidney specialists, please call our Urology Department today at (855) 360-9119.
Symptoms of Kidney Cancer
The increased use of ultrasound, CT scans, and MRIs in medical care has significantly improved the ability to detect kidney cancer in its earliest stages. Earlier detection translates to a reduced chance of the cancer spreading, increased surgical treatment options, and a better overall prognosis. Therefore, it is important to consult with your doctor if you begin to exhibit signs of early stage kidney cancer.
Symptoms that may indicate kidney cancer include:
- Blood in the urine
- Abdominal pain
- Weight loss
- Extreme fatigue
Stages of Kidney Cancer
Kidney cancer is classified as early stage or advanced stage. Early stage is defined as a tumor that is limited to the kidney and its surrounding tissue. It’s important to note that early stage kidney cancer has not begun to spread to other parts of the body. When a kidney malignancy becomes more aggressive and spreads to lymph nodes or other organs, it is then classified as advanced stage.
The majority of kidney cancers found the United States are now found in the early stages, and most of these tumors can be completely cured through surgery alone. Chemotherapy and immunotherapy in conjunction with surgery can be considered for particular cases but are typically reserved for more advanced kidney cancers. Your doctor will perform blood work and imaging tests to determine the stage of the kidney cancer and available treatment options.
Treatments for Kidney Cancer
The preferred method of kidney cancer treatment is surgery. The urologists of La Peer Health Systems are expertly trained in minimally invasive kidney cancer surgery.Through cutting-edge surgical techniques, the diseased part of the kidney can be removed (partial nephrectomy) to rid the body of the malignant tumor cells.
Surgical options for kidney cancer include:
- Minimally Invasive Robotic Partial Nephrectomy – This procedure utilizes the da Vinci surgical system, in which the surgeon directs movement of dime-sized robotic instruments through tiny incisions in the abdomen. After the tumor is located with ultrasound guidance, the surgeon precisely excises the tumor and reconstructs the remaining kidney.
- Total Nephrectomy – In cases where the cancer has spread throughout most of the kidney, it may be necessary to remove it entirely. This surgery can be performed through open or minimally invasive techniques.
- Open Partial Nephrectomy – This procedure involves making an incision and approaching the diseased kidney from between or under the ribs. It may be more suitable for some patients and can achieve the same success rates as minimally invasive techniques, while leaving a larger incision scar.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Is blood in the urine a definitive indicator of kidney cancer?
A: No, in fact blood in the urine can be a product of much more common health problems including kidney stones or urinary tract infections. It is important to consult your doctor if you experience blood in urine in order to rule out or confirm kidney cancer.
Q: Is a partial nephrectomy better than a total nephrectomy?
A: There is data to suggest that patients who undergo total nephrectomy compared to partial nephrectomy may experience an increased risk of kidney disease and potentially other health complications. Our surgeons aim to provide treatment that maximally preserves kidney function while at the same time eradicating the kidney cancer. However, sometimes the kidney cancer is so large that it has replaced most of the kidney; in other situations the cancer is located such that preserving the blood supply to the kidney is not possible. In such cases, a partial nephrectomy cannot be performed so a total nephrectomy is performed, whereby the entire kidney is removed along with the cancer.
Q: Are alternative therapies for kidney cancer available?
A: In certain situations, a person may not be healthy enough for surgical intervention. Several alternative treatment methods exist, including freezing (cryotherapy) or burning (radiofrequency ablation) tumor cells with a special needle. Your doctor will be able to assess if you are a good candidate for alternative therapy.
Q: What is recovery from kidney surgery like?
A: Depending on the exact procedure, patients typically spend 1-4 days in the hospital following surgery. Most return to normal activities within two weeks. Heavy lifting and strenuous exercise should not be attempted until 4 weeks after surgery.
Contact a Beverly Hills Urologist
If you have been experiencing symptoms of kidney cancer, consider scheduling a consultation with one of our renowned surgeons that specialize in kidney cancer therapy. For more information about treatment options, contact the Beverly Hills urologists at La Peer Health Systems at (855) 360-9119.
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