Treatment of Renal Cancer

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Treatment depends mainly on the stage of disease and the patient’s general health and age. People with kidney cancer may have one or more of the following treatment options:  

Surgery

An operation to remove the kidney is called a nephrectomy. There are several types of nephrectomies. The type depends mainly on the stage of the tumor.
  • Radical nephrectomy: Kidney cancer is usually treated with radical nephrectomy. The surgeon removes the entire kidney along with the adrenal gland and some tissue around the kidney. Some lymph nodes in the area also may be removed.
  • Simple nephrectomy: The surgeon removes only the kidney. Some people with Stage I kidney cancer may have a simple nephrectomy.
  • Partial nephrectomy: The surgeon removes only the part of the kidney that contains the tumor. This type of surgery may be used when the person has only one kidney, or when the cancer affects both kidneys. Also, a person with a small kidney tumor (less than 4 centimeters) may have this type of surgery.
 

Arterial Embolization

Arterial embolization is a type of local therapy that shrinks the tumor. The doctor inserts a catheter into a blood vessel in the leg. The tube is passed up to the main blood vessel (renal artery) that supplies blood to the kidney. The doctor injects a substance into the blood vessel to block the flow of blood into the kidney. The blockage prevents the tumor from getting oxygen and other substances it needs to grow.

Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy (also called radiotherapy) is another type of local therapy. It uses high-energy rays to kill cancer cells.

Biological Therapy

Biological therapy is a type of systemic therapy. It uses substances that travel through the bloodstream, reaching and affecting cells all over the body. Biological therapy uses the body’s natural ability (immune system) to fight cancer.

Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy is also a type of systemic therapy. Anticancer drugs enter the bloodstream and travel throughout the body.

Nutrition

Patients need to eat well during cancer therapy. They need enough calories to maintain a good weight and protein to keep up strength. Good nutrition often helps people with cancer feel better and have more energy.

Follow-up Care

Follow-up care after treatment for kidney cancer is important. Even when the cancer seems to have been completely removed or destroyed, the disease sometimes returns because cancer cells can remain in the body after treatment. The doctor monitors the recovery of the person treated for kidney cancer and checks for recurrence of cancer. Checkups help ensure that any changes in health are noted. The patient may have lab tests, chest x-rays, CT scans, or other tests.
Sources
National Cancer Institute http://www.cancer.gov
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention http://www.cdc.gov