This surgery involves the removal of a kidney using small instruments and a camera inserted into several small incisions (laparoscopic).
The kidneys are two bean-shaped organs that are located on either side toward the back, just below the rib cage. One of the main functions of the kidneys is to filter the blood.
The kidneys, and the hormones they produce, have several important functions that include:
Kidney cancer is the growth of abnormal cells in the kidney. The growth of these abnormal cells is known as a malignant or cancerous tumor.
Healthcare providers will look for spread of the kidney cancer to other areas of the body. This process is called “staging.” Metastatic kidney cancer is cancer that started in the kidney and has spread to other organs and tissues. Your healthcare provider will need the following clinical information to decide what type of treatment is right for you.
Depending on their location in the kidney, small cancers can sometimes be treated with a minimally invasive procedure. These procedures can be done in a hospitals X-ray department with very little sedation. Some examples include:
A nephrectomy, removal of a kidney or part of a kidney, is the most common treatment for large kidney cancers. It can be done through a large incision on the side of the abdomen or several small incisions using small medical instruments and a camera (laparoscopic). There are three different types of nephrectomies. The surgery your healthcare provider recommends will depend on your specific circumstances.
The costs associated with this care path are for a laparoscopic radical nephrectomy.
It is not known what causes kidney cancer. However, there are several factors that may increase your risk.
Some of the symptoms of kidney cancer include:
It is important to remember that these symptoms can be caused by other conditions.
Contact your healthcare provider if you have any of the above symptoms. He or she will review your symptoms and perform a physical examination. They may also recommend one of the following tests:
A biopsy is sometimes done to determine if an abnormality is cancer or another kidney disorder. (However, for most kidney tumors treatment is done without a prior biopsy.) If your kidney biopsy indicates you have kidney cancer, additional testing (CT scan, PET scan or MRI) may be needed.
The treatment for kidney cancer is based on many factors, including:
Although the primary treatment for kidney cancer is surgery, other treatments are available in certain circumstances.
To get a full range of opinions and perspectives, you may want to consider input from a variety of doctors. This group may include:
If your healthcare provider recommends a nephrectomy, prior to the surgery you should tell them about any medications you are taking (including over-the-counter medications and supplements). You should also ask about specific instructions you should follow before and after the surgery. These include:
If you are a smoker, you should quit smoking, as it can interfere with your recovery.
During your surgery, you will receive anesthesia to keep you comfortable and pain free. General anesthesia is the most common type of anesthesia for a nephrectomy.
It is important to remember that the total cost of this care path does not include all possible medications, lab work or imaging studies. Those charges can add up. If your healthcare provider recommends any lab work or imaging studies, you may need to search for their costs separately.
Be prepared to discuss your symptoms and how long you have had them.
What should I ask my healthcare provider before having a nephrectomy?
Do not forget to arrange for transportation to and from the facility and for help at home.
Before you go home, make sure you understand all home care instructions (including medications and side effects), what symptoms you should report to your healthcare provider after discharge and follow-up plans. Your surgeon should also communicate with your primary care physician.
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