Surgery is the main treatment for most kidney cancers. Potential surgical options include robotic-assisted, laparoscopic surgeries and an open surgical operation.
- Radical nephrectomy. In this operation, the surgeon removes your whole kidney and the fatty tissue around the kidney and occasionally the attached adrenal gland and nearby lymph nodes. This procedure can be performed both laparoscopically and through an open incision. The type of surgery performed is influenced by both unique patient factors and tumor characteristics. With laparoscopic surgery, the procedure is performed through several small incisions. With an open operation, the surgeon can make the incision in several places, the most common being the abdomen, under the ribs on the same side of the cancer.
- Partial nephrectomy (nephron-sparing surgery). In this procedure, the surgeon removes only the part of the kidney that contains cancer, leaving the rest of the kidney behind. Partial nephrectomy can help preserve kidney function and can often be performed utilizing robotic assisted or laparoscopic surgery. In some cases, an open surgery may be preferred, and the surgeon can make the incision in several places, depending on factors like the location of the tumor and characteristics of each individual patient.
In some cases, immunotherapy may be an option for treatment of kidney cancer. Immunotherapy drugs help a patient’s immune system fight the cancer cells.
For some people with kidney cancer, radiation therapy can be used to alleviate pain or other symptoms caused by tumor growth. Radiation is most often used along with other kidney cancer treatments, like surgery targeted therapy.
Your doctor may advise radiation to:
- Relieve symptoms such as pain or bleeding caused by a spread of cancer.
- Kill any remaining small areas of cancer following a surgery.
- Treat a single area of cancer spread, such as a tumor in the brain or an adrenal gland. This may be done along with surgery to treat the tumor.
Targeted therapies are medications that are relatively new and often used in cases of advanced kidney cancer. They typically work by preventing the growth of new blood vessels by the tumor, which may decrease the size of the tumor and control cancer growth. Some of these medications are given intravenously and some are given as a pill. These medications are different from chemotherapy and are more specific targeting cancer cell growth mechanisms.