Surgery for Renal Pelvis & Ureter Cancer

Minimally Invasive Approach

At Scott & White, the majority of our renal pelvis and ureter 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

Because most kidney cancers are diagnosed when they’re small, at early stage, most treatments for renal pelvis and ureter cancer are surgical. Most treatments involve removal of the cancer. Often, when the cancer is found early and is small, we can remove part of your kidney and preserve the majority of your kidney.

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

Your Integrated Care Team may recommend the surgical removal of all or part of your renal pelvis, ureter or 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 renal pelvis and ureter 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 renal pelvis and ureter cancer.

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

Distal or Segmental Resection of the Ureter

In this surgical procedure, your surgeon will remove your tumor and only the affected area of your ureter. Your surgeon will then reattach the remaining sections of your ureter. This operation preserves a significant portion of your kidney.

A distal or segmental resection of the ureter is a good option for patients with either:

  • Early-stage renal pelvis and ureter cancer
  • One functional kidney

Percutaneous Endoscopic 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 the cancerous section from your ureter and reattach the ends.

Percutaneous resection is a kidney-preserving procedure, generally for patients with either:

  • Early- or middle-stage renal pelvis and ureter cancer
  • One functional kidney

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 a good option if you have:

  • Multiple tumors on one kidney
  • A large tumor (greater than 4 to 5 cm)
  • Renal pelvis and ureter 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

As with all operations, there are some risks. Your surgeon will discuss these risks with you.

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