The kidneys are a pair of bean-shaped organs located at the back of the abdomen and above the waist. The kidneys filter the blood and rid the body of waste that becomes urine. Urine passes from each kidney into the bladder through a long tube called a ureter. There are two ureters, one from each kidney.
Cancer forms in the tissues of the kidney. There are two types of kidney cancer: renal cell carcinoma and urothelial cell carcinoma.
Renal cell carcinoma occurs in the lining of very small tubes in the kidney that filter the blood and remove waste products. Urothelial cell carcinoma is a cancer that forms in the ureters or in the center of the kidney where the urine collects and drains.
Common symptoms of kidney cancer may include:
- Blood in urine
- Back or side pain that does not subside
- Rapid weight loss
- Lump in abdomen
- Loss of appetite
- Radical nephrectomy. Surgery to remove the entire affected kidney.
- Partial nephrectomy. Surgery to remove the tumor while leaving the rest of the normal kidney intact.
Either surgery can be performed using the following approaches:
- Open. Accomplished through one abdominal or flank incision.
- Laparoscopic. Minimally invasive. Performed with small incisions through which a video camera and surgical tools are inserted.
- da Vinci robotic-assisted laparoscopic. A minimally-invasive procedure that uses a computer, enhanced 3D imaging and robotics. The surgeon’s hand movements are micro-scaled into precise movements by the robot at the operative site.
Cryoablation. Another minimally invasive option. Uses to freeze and destroy cancer cells. Not all patients are candidates for cryoablation. Most often performed percutaneously, which means tiny special needles are inserted through the skin without incisions. Depending upon the individual case, may be performed through laparoscopic, da Vinci robotic-assisted or open approach.