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In cases of kidney cancer, surgery is a common treatment for the disease. Types of surgery used to treat the condition include partial nephrectomy, simple nephrectomy, and radical nephrectomy. A person can live with part of one working kidney, but if both kidneys are removed during surgery or are not working properly, the person will need dialysis or a kidney transplant.

Surgery for Kidney Cancer: An Overview

Surgery is a common treatment for kidney cancer. A nephrectomy is an operation that is used to remove the kidney. There are several types -- the one a healthcare provider recommends will depend on the stage of the tumor (see Kidney Cancer Stages).
This eMedTV article uses "kidney cancer" to refer to renal cell carcinoma (also known as renal cell cancer), the most common of the kidney cancer types.
(To read about treatment for other types of kidney cancer, click Transitional Cell Carcinoma Treatment or Wilms' Tumor Treatment.)
Options for kidney cancer surgery include:
  • Partial nephrectomy
  • Simple nephrectomy
  • Radical nephrectomy.
Partial Nephrectomy
In a partial nephrectomy, the surgeon will remove only the part of the kidney that contains the tumor. This type of surgery for kidney cancer may be used when the person:
  • Has only one kidney
  • Has both kidneys affected by cancer
  • Has a small kidney tumor (less than 4 centimeters or three-quarters of an inch).
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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