How is kidney cancer treated?
Every patient at Miami Cancer Institute receives a personalized treatment plan put together by our team of medical oncologists, surgical oncologists, radiation oncologists and interventional oncologists.
Our philosophy is to find the plan that not only treats the cancer, but also fits you as a patient. Your team will consider your specific diagnosis and type of tumor, the stage of disease, size and location of tumor and whether it has spread to other parts of your body. We also work closely with physical therapists, nurses, nutritionists and psychosocial experts to ensure we address any potential side effects of treatment.
Surgery is often the first step to treating kidney cancer. It is often the only treatment needed if the kidney cancer has not spread.
During surgery, our team may remove part of the kidney, known as a partial nephrectomy, or the whole kidney, which is a radical nephrectomy.
In some cases, your surgical team may decide to use minimally invasive surgery, also called laparoscopic surgery. During these procedures, surgeons make several small incisions in the abdomen rather than one, large incision. The team then inserts specialized surgical tools through the incisions to operate on your kidney. They will also insert a lighted tube with a camera, which allows them to see your kidney on a monitor and conduct the surgery.
Minimally invasive kidney surgeries have many benefits, including reduced blood loss, scarring and pain. Most patients also spend less time in the hospital and recover faster.
Depending on your diagnosis, your surgeon may decide to use minimally invasive robotic surgery, such as a robotic partial nephrectomy. Robotic surgery, or robot-assisted surgery, uses a camera, computer and very small surgical tools that are attached to robotic arms. This special equipment helps surgeons access tumors in tight spaces through small incisions with greater precision.
If you undergo a robotic partial nephrectomy, your surgeon will make several small incisions in your abdomen. Then, your surgeon will use the specialized robotic surgery system to insert a small camera and operating tools through the incisions to remove the tumor and part of your kidney.
If surgery is not the best option for treating your cancer, your care team may decide to use image-guided ablation techniques, performed by interventional oncologists. During these procedures, these physicians place needles through your skin and use advanced imaging technology to guide the needles to your tumors. Then, extreme heat or cold is sent through the needles to destroy the tumor. Tumor ablation with cryoablation, radiofrequency ablation and microwave ablation are effective minimally invasive treatments for small kidney tumors. These procedures also are effective for treating patients with only one kidney, multiple tumors and poor kidney function.
If your cancer has spread, your team may consider other treatments, including:
- Targeted therapy – This treatment uses medicines targeted specifically for the type of tumor you have.
- Immunotherapy – This treatment uses medicines that stimulate an immune response within the kidney to destroy cancer cells.
- Chemotherapy – This treatment uses medicine – or several medicines – to kill cancer cells. Chemotherapy treatment may come before or after surgery.
- Radiation therapy – This treatment uses image-guided radiation to kill cancer cells.
A multidisciplinary team of cancer experts including surgeons, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, plastic reconstructive surgeons, pathologists, radiologists, genetic counselors, medical geneticists, social workers, patient navigators and clinical trials staff meet weekly to discuss select complex cases and determine the best course of care.
Miami Cancer Institute can provide access to clinical trials not widely available elsewhere. Clinical trials find new ways to treat and diagnose cancer and are ongoing. If an appropriate trial is available, we will talk to you about the benefits and risks.
Patient Support Services
Taking care of the whole patient is an important component of providing personalized cancer care. Integrated into the fabric of the Miami Cancer Institute, the Cancer Patient Support Center addresses the psychological, physical, social and spiritual needs of our patients during cancer treatment and beyond.