Surgery for Kidney Cancer

Minimally Invasive Approach

At Scott & White, the majority of our kidney cancer surgeries are performed with minimally invasive techniques. Benefits of minimally invasive surgery include:

  • Better cosmetic result
  • Quicker recovery times, allowing you to:
    • Return to your daily routine sooner
    • Begin future treatment sooner
  • Shorter hospital stay
  • Less pain
  • Less blood loss
  • Lower risk of infection
  • Fewer complications


Not all patients are candidates for a minimally invasive approach. Factors affecting the decision to use minimally invasive techniques include:

  • Tumor size, stage or location
  • Patient obesity and health
  • Prior surgeries

Your Integrated Care Team may recommend the surgical removal of all or part of your kidney. Your team may recommend other treatments in addition to surgery.

We use minimally invasive techniques whenever possible and appropriate, based on your condition.

At Scott & White, treatment goals for kidney cancer generally are centered on kidney-preserving treatments. Our philosophy is to preserve as much of your kidney as reasonable while removing as much cancer as possible.

Surgical Procedures

Surgery is often the first treatment approach for kidney cancer.

Your operation will be performed using one of the following methods:

Your physician will discuss which option is best for you. As with all operations, there are some risks. Your surgeon will discuss those risks with you.

Partial Nephrectomy

In this surgical procedure, your physician will remove your tumor and only the part of your kidney containing the tumor.

A partial nephrectomy is the preferred treatment for:

  • Smaller renal tumors (less than 4 to 5 cm)
  • People at risk for kidney failure if the entire kidney is removed
  • Younger, healthier patients

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A benefit of partial nephrectomy is the preservation of as much kidney as possible to prevent possible kidney failure.

Kristofer R. Wagner, MD, Urology; Director – Robotic Surgery

Partial nephrectomy often preserves the majority of your kidney, which can be critical for patients with:

  • A single kidney
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Diabetes
  • Hypertension

Percutaneous Resection

In this leading-edge surgical procedure, your surgeon will use a camera to perform microsurgery on your kidney. Your surgeon will make a small incision and remove your tumor through a narrow tube.

Percutaneous resection is a kidney-preserving procedure, generally for patients with early- or middle-stage kidney cancer.

Simple Nephrectomy

In this surgical procedure, your physician will remove your entire kidney. This is a good option if you have early- or middle-stage kidney cancer.

Radical Nephroureterectomy

In this surgical procedure, your physician will remove your:

  • Entire kidney
  • Ureter
  • Surrounding fat
  • Small cuff of bladder
  • Adjacent lymph nodes, in some cases

A radical nephroureterectomy is generally recommended if you have:

  • Multiple tumors on one kidney
  • A large tumor (greater than 4 to 5 cm)
  • Kidney cancer that has spread to the lymph nodes or distant organs

A radical nephroureterectomy is the most effective therapy for larger kidney tumors — greater than 4 to 5 centimeters — with the highest chance of cure.

Kristofer R. Wagner, MD, Urology; Director – Robotic Surgery

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