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Surgery in one form or another is the most common course of action after a Kidney Cancer diagnosis and should be carried out as rapidly as possible to avoid additional risk of development. Your medical team will explain the surgical options and why they recommend the particular one for you. Kidney Removal is called a Nephrectomy and one could say they come in several sizes!

A Radical Nephrectomy: This is the most common operation and is normally removes the entire kidney, the Adrenal Gland and a Margin of tissue around the affected area. Additionally sometimes the Ureter is removed all the way to the Bladder. Also the surgeon may plan to remove some Lymph Nodes in the area or make that decision based on his physical investigation during the procedure.

A Simple Nephrectomy: This is where the surgeon removes only the kidney, this is only done for some patients with Stage 1 Kidney Cancer.

A Partial Nephrectomy: This operation is where the surgeon removes only a part of the kidney usually because the patient has only one kidney or where the patient has cancer affecting both kidneys. This operation is also sometimes done if the cancer is under ¾ inch and isolated.

Surgical Methods

Open Nephrectomy: This is when under full anaesthetic the surgical team make an incision right around your flank from almost your tummy button to the band of muscle supporting your spinal column. This requires cutting through three levels of muscle and upwards to liberate the kidney which is firmly positioned just inside the lower rib cage. Sometimes your surgeon may have to remove one or more of your ribs to access the kidney and ensure the removal of a Margin]].

Partial Laparoscopic Nephrectomy: This is when the surgeon believes that he can conduct the operation by Key Hole (Laparoscopy) techniques but wishes to remove the kidney whole through a supporting aperture. This aperture permits the insertion of either a hand or part of a hand and the kidney can be extracted ensuring no leakage of cancerous tissue.

Laparascopic Nephrectomy: This is when the surgeon considers that the cancer is so small as to be safely removed with a laparoscope. This normally requires upto 5 small incisions for the insertion of instruments. This operation is also used in the case of patients who are not fit enough to survive an open nephrectomy.

Before Your Operation You May Wish To Ask Your Medical Team:

1. Which operation do you recommend for me and by which method?

2. Why do you recommend this versus the alternatives?

3. What exactly do you intend to remove and why?

4. Do you believe that there is lymph node involvement? How do you arrive at this opinion?

5. What are the risks of this surgery and the possible chances?

6. How will I feel after the surgery? And for how long?

7. How long will I be likely to stay in hospital?

8. How long will it be before I can get back to normal & work?

9. Do you envisage additional treatment immediately or in the future?

10. What are the long term effects of this surgery I can expect?

For additional information on Surgery click here


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