Surgical Treatment of Renal Cancer

For the treatment of a renal tumor, a nephrectomy (i.e. kidney removal surgery) or partial nephrectomy is generally performed.

A kidney may also have to be removed for some reason other than a tumor. These reasons may include recurring inflammations or renal failure.

A nephrectomy involves the removal of the entire kidney and the surrounding fatty tissue while a partial nephrectomy involves the removal of the tumor only along with a small amount of healthy tissue surrounding the tumor. Sometimes in the case of a tumor in the superior portion of the kidney, the suprarenal gland may be removed as well.

When Is Surgery Justified?

Tumors are generally detected via imaging. Usually, the benignity or malignancy of a renal tumor cannot be verified with certainty from the image.

In some cases, the nature of the renal tumor can be verified through a biopsy, but the most common approach is to remove the suspicious tumor surgically. After surgery, a pathologist will examine the removed tumor and state its tissue type.

Surgical Procedures

The surgery may be either an endoscopy through a small incision made in the abdominal area or open surgery. The surgical technique is planned individually and its selection is determined by the size and location of the tumor, as well as the patient’s overall situation.

During surgery, an endoscopy can be changed into open surgery when necessary if it becomes evident that the tumor cannot be removed with certainty by endoscopic means or if continuing the endoscopy would not be safe.

Adequacy of Surgical Treatment and Supplementary Treatments

Surgical treatment is the only curing treatment for renal cancer, but new pharmaceutical treatments have improved the prognosis for metastasized cancer as well.

Usually, renal cancer can be surgically removed in its entirety and no adjuvant therapies (cytostatic therapy or radiotherapy) are needed. Even if renal cancer has metastasized so that surgery is unable to remove all of the cancerous tissue, surgical treatment is often settled on nonetheless if such is technically possible and the patient’s condition allows it.

Pros and Cons of Surgery

The human body can function with one kidney. Immediate complications associated with surgery include bleeding or inflammation. Bleeding rarely requires any procedures while inflammation is treated with antibiotics as necessary.

Serious complications are rare.