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Kidney Cancer Surgery

Simple Nephrectomy
In a simple nephrectomy, the surgeon will remove only the kidney. This procedure may be used when people have stage I kidney cancer.
Radical Nephrectomy
Kidney cancer is usually treated with radical nephrectomy, in which the surgeon will remove the entire kidney along with the adrenal gland and some tissue around the kidney. With this type of surgery, the lymph nodes also may be removed.

Kidney Cancer Surgery and Adjuvant Therapy

Even if the doctor removes all of the cancer that can be seen at the time of the surgery, chemotherapy may be given to kill any cancer cells that are left. Treatment given after kidney cancer surgery to increase the chances of a cure is called adjuvant therapy.

Recovering From Kidney Cancer Surgery

It takes time to heal after surgery for kidney cancer, and recovery is different for each person. After the procedure, you may feel uncomfortable, tired, and weak. However, medicine can usually control the pain, and you should discuss the plan for pain relief with your doctor or nurse before surgery. Afterward, your doctor can adjust the plan if more pain relief is needed.
The healthcare team will need to watch you for signs of problems by:
  • Monitoring the amount of fluid that you take in and the amount of urine produced
  • Looking for signs of bleeding, infection, or other problems requiring immediate treatment
  • Ordering lab tests.
A person can live with part of one working kidney, but if both kidneys are removed during kidney cancer surgery or are not working properly, the person will need dialysis (a procedure to clean the blood using a machine outside of the body) or a kidney transplant (replacement with a healthy donated kidney).
A kidney transplant may be done when the disease is only in the kidney and a donated kidney can be found. If the patient has to wait for a donated kidney, other treatment is given as needed.
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