A multidisciplinary team comprising a urologist and other cancer specialists will work together to determine the right treatment for kidney, or renal, cancer based on evaluation of a patient’s overall health. It can be a single mode of treatment or a combination of methods depending on what stage of cancer. The type of treatment will depend on various factors, including symptoms and possible side effects.
Some of the most common treatments for kidney cancer include targeted therapy, chemotherapy, surgery, or radiation therapy. Surgery is a common option at various stages, and the type of surgery advised would depend on the level of progression of the disease. In general, the surgery aims to remove all of the tumors along with the affected tissue in order to salvage the kidney. Based on how far the cancer has spread in the kidney, part or all of it along with the lymph nodes and tissue would be removed in surgery using various techniques.
Some of the common types of surgery include the following:
1. Radical nephrectomy
This is the surgical treatment for renal/kidney cancer wherein the tumor along with the kidney and the surrounding tissues are removed. Based on the level of spread to lymph nodes and the surrounding tissues, a clean margin would be sought to remove the cancer cells as completely as possible. A dissection would be performed on the lymph nodes and the surrounding tissues of the kidney to get that level of precision on cancer. A procedure known as adrenalectomy would be used to remove the adrenal glands if they have been affected by cancer. This is a common course of treatment when the tumor is large and the amount of healthy tissue present on the kidney can barely be saved.
2. Partial nephrectomy
As the term suggests, this form of surgical treatment for renal/kidney cancer would involve only a calculated removal of the tumor in order to ensure that the kidney function or function of the renal veins are not compromised. This is appropriate for patients with T1 tumors and surgery is a possible option.
There are also other minimally invasive surgical treatments for renal/kidney cancer in the form of laparoscopic or robotic surgery. This is done using smaller incisions and the period for recovery is quicker. However, the goal of the procedure would be to carve out the tumor as a whole. The time taken would still be longer than the traditional types of surgery as the area covered would be more extensive.
Regardless of the mode of surgical treatment for renal/kidney cancer, it is important to know all the details involved, from pre-surgery to post-surgery care so that you do not end up straining or complicating post-surgery recovery.