Tools To Tackle Kidney Cancer

June 1, 2021

Treatment of kidney cancer is largely based on the size and location of the tumor and whether or not it has spread or metastasized. When the tumor has spread to other organs, there are four primary treatment options: nephrectomy followed by immunotherapy, initial treatment with immunotherapy, clinical research trials and surveillance.

In a prior blog, we addressed the basics of kidney cancer. Now it’s time to talk about treatment options.

In the U.S., approximately 2% of all cancers arise from the kidney. Each year, kidney cancer is diagnosed in approximately 52,000 Americans. Kidney cancer is about twice as common in males than females and is usually diagnosed between the ages of 50 and 70 years. With early diagnosis and treatment kidney cancer can be cured. Survival rates for patients with kidney cancer range from 79-100%.

There are multiple treatment options for kidney cancer:

  • Tumor removal (surgery)
  • Tumor ablation
  • Immunotherapy
  • Surveillance

Tumor removal – A nephrectomy is the surgical removal of the whole kidney or a portion of the kidney where the tumor is confined in order to rid the body of the tumor. It is considered the gold standard of treatment for kidney cancer. A da Vinci Robotic nephrectomy is performed laparoscopically using telescopes that are inserted into the abdominal cavity through small “keyhole” incisions; however, a somewhat larger incision is often made to permit removal of an intact kidney. Research notes that a robotic nephrectomy has less postoperative pain, shorter hospital stay and shorter recovery time and an open nephrectomy.

Tumor ablation – If the tumor is small, ablation may be a good treatment choice. Ablation destroys the
tumor with extreme heat or cold. 

  • Cryoablation (cold ablation) is when very cold gases are passed through a probe to destroy the tumor cells.
  • Radiofrequency ablation (hot ablation) is when a thin, needle-like probe is placed through the skin to reach the
    tumor. An electric current is passed through the tip of the probe to heat the tumor and destroy the cells.

Immunotherapy – This type of care works with the immune systems to reach cancer cells that have spread in the body and stop them from growing. Often, this is done by combining different types of immunotherapy. New combinations can control advanced cancer and stop its growth for longer times by helping the body’s immune system find and fight cancer. Ideally, this stops the cancer and shrink tumors. 

Active Surveillance – For active surveillance, your urologist follows the cancer, by scheduling tests and imaging at certain intervals throughout the year to monitor the cancer. The goal is to prevent progression and avoid the potential risks and negative effects of other treatments. 

If you’d like to discuss treatment options for kidney cancer, please contact Austin Urology Institute to schedule an appointment with a provider by calling 521.694.8888 or submitting a contact form.