Kidney sparing surgery using segmental resection
Kidney sparing surgery using segmental resection

Surgery is the first step to remove and treat a kidney tumor. A surgeon will try to save as much of the kidney as possible. A person can live with part of one working kidney without too much trouble. If both kidneys are removed or not working, dialysis is needed. Dialysis is a machine outside of the body used to clean the blood.

Nephrectomy is the surgery used to treat kidney cancer. There are three types:

  • Radical nephrectomy: to remove an entire kidney, nearby adrenal gland and lymph nodes, and other surrounding tissue
  • Partial nephrectomy: to remove the kidney tumor, but not an entire kidney

The type of surgery you are offered will depend on the:

  • Surgeon’s choice
  • Tumor’s location
  • Tumor’s grade
  • Tumor’s stage

Options include:

  • Traditional: a 10-inch cut in the abdomen is made to remove the tumor(s)
  • Laparoscopy: Tube-like instruments are inserted in the abdomen through small “key-hole” cuts to remove the tumor(s)

Other Groups' Resources

Kidney Cancer Association


Kidney Caner (English)
Cáncer de riñón (Español)

National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health

Renal Cell Cancer Treatment – Patient Version