Kidney Cancer Treatment Offered by Urology Doctors at Mercy
Patients throughout the Baltimore region seek the expertise of The Urology Specialists of Maryland at Mercy Medical Center. Our experienced team of urologists treat a broad spectrum of urologic disorders, including kidney cancer.
There are two kidneys in the body and their job is to clean the blood, remove waste products and make urine. When cells become cancerous and grow wildly, they form a tumor in the kidneys. The most common type of kidney cancer (also called renal cancer) in adults is renal cell carcinoma.
In its early stages, kidney cancer has few symptoms and, like kidney stones, is often found during procedures for other medical conditions. There isn't a clear reason why kidney cancer develops, but risk factors include advancing age, smoking, obesity, and high blood pressure. Men are more likely than women to develop kidney cancer.
Kidney cancer has few symptoms in its early stages. As it advances, patients may notice:
- Persistent back pain
- Weight loss
- Pink, red or cola-colored urine (indication of blood in urine)
- Periodic Fever
These symptoms also mirror kidney infection symptoms, so patients should check with their doctor for any of these warning signs.
Diagnosing kidney cancer can include blood and urine tests as well as imaging tests such as ultrasound, CT (computerized tomography) or MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) so our doctors can see the kidney tumor. Removal of kidney tissue (biopsy) for further diagnosis rarely occurs in kidney cancer diagnosis but is another diagnostic tool.
For most kidney cancers, surgery is usually the treatment plan. Surgical procedures for kidney cancer include:
- Removing the kidney only (simple nephrectomy)
- Removing the cancer in the kidney and some surrounding tissue (partial nephrectomy)
- Removing the kidney, adrenal gland and surrounding tissue and sometimes adjacent lymph nodes (radical nephrectomy).
These surgeries may be performed as traditional open surgery or as minimally invasive laparoscopic surgery, which uses several small incisions. The Urology Specialists of Maryland specialize in robotic assisted minimally invasive surgery for the treatment of kidney cancer.
If the kidney is removed, patients recover and survive with the remaining working kidney. If both kidneys are removed, patients will need to have their blood cleaned regularly with dialysis. Patients whose kidney cancer did not spread to other areas of the body are eligible for kidney transplants.
For some patients, surgery isn’t an option. Other treatment plans may include:
- Microwave ablation, a treatment using electromagnetic waves to heat up or burn off the cancer cells
For kidney cancer that has spread to other parts of the body or for recurring kidney cancer, our doctors may recommend treatments that help control the cancer such as:
- Surgery to remove as much of the cancer as possible
- Immunotherapy that uses the body’s immune system to fight the cancer
- Targeted drug therapy that inhibits cancer cell growth
- Radiation therapy using high-powered beams to kill cancer cells