Hearing that you have a tumor on your kidney is never great news. Most tumors are malignant, or cancerous, while only 20% are benign and do not spread to other parts of your body.
Treatment for kidney tumors depends on many factors, including whether or not it is cancerous. At Buschemeyer Urology, experienced urologist W. Cooper Buschemeyer III, MD, orders tests, including a biopsy and imaging test, to determine your tumor type. This helps him determine the best treatment.
Once he has a diagnosis, he’ll present you with options for treatment. Here are five of the most common.
Watch and wait
If you have a benign kidney tumor, Dr. Buschemeyer will actively watch it to ensure it doesn’t grow to affect kidney function or develop cancerous cells.
Even small tumors that are cancerous may do best with the watch-and-wait treatment. Of course, we pay close attention to your tumor with regular screenings and imaging tests scheduled every 3-12 months, but other immediate treatment may not be necessary.
Kidney tumors tend to grow very slowly. Unless there is a change in your test results, Dr. Buschemeyer will continue monitoring for the long term.
If you have an aggressive or large tumor, Dr. Buschemeyer may recommend surgery to remove the tumor and all or part of the affected kidney.
A partial kidney removal leaves the healthy part of your kidney intact. This type of surgery is appropriate when you have a small tumor that hasn’t spread.
If you have a large tumor near major blood vessels, Dr. Buschemeyer may recommend the removal of the entire kidney and some surrounding tissue and lymph nodes.
Ablation involves using extreme heat or cold temperatures to destroy tumor cells. Dr. Buschemeyer recommends ablation for small tumors.
During cryoablation, the doctor inserts a needle into the kidney tumor and passes a very cold gas through the needle. The process freezes and destroys the tumor cells.
During radiofrequency ablation, Dr. Buschemeyer inserts the needle into the kidney tumor and passes an electric current to heat up and destroy any tumor cells.
When you only have one kidney or can’t have surgery due to age or health conditions, radiation therapy is a noninvasive way to potentially destroy kidney tumor cells.
If surgery is not an option for you, targeted drug therapy can help. This therapy is sometimes recommended after surgery to prevent a recurrence.
The drugs work by preventing tumor cells from thriving and spreading.
Risk of kidney cancer
About 3.7% of all cancers each year are kidney cancer. While anyone can develop the disease, it’s more common in people who:
- Are obese
- Have high blood pressure
A family history of kidney cancer or certain genetic mutations also increases your risk of developing kidney cancer. Long-term dialysis treatment and certain diseases also raise your risk.
If you are at risk of kidney cancer or have symptoms like fatigue, flank pain, low back pain, unexplained weight loss, or blood in your urine, make an appointment at our office immediately to be evaluated.
Contact our team at Buschemeyer Urology at the Conroe, Willis, or The Woodlands, Texas, offices.