intuitive-en-kidney-anatomy-open-vs-davinciKidney cancer is a serious disease and every year it is diagnosed nearly 200,000 times per year worldwide. While this type of cancer is common, it is important to realize that with early detection and treatment, kidney cancer can be cured and has a survival rate of eighty to one-hundred percent. A kidney tumor, also known as a lesion or mass, is an abnormal growth in the kidney.

Tumors may be benign also known as non-cancerous; or malignant also known as cancerous. Cysts are by far the most common types of masses and are usually benign; whereas, solid tumors are generally malignant.

In order for a tumor to grow and metastasize, it must stimulate new blood vessels to provide the tumor with nutrients and oxygen. Kidney cancers travel very efficiently through the blood vessels. Commonly called renal cell carcinoma, the cancer cells form within the small tubes located inside the components that filter the blood.


Kidney cancer can be insidious because it does not present with early symptoms; however, you should see your doctor immediately if you experience blood in your urine, pain in your side, or notice a lump in your abdomen. In some cases, kidney cancer causes conditions known as paraneoplastic syndromes. These syndromes occur in about 20% of patients and can occur in any stage. Symptoms can include weight loss, loss of appetite, fever, sweats and high blood pressure.

Risk Factors and Screening

Medical science has linked a high degree of risk to the smoking, obesity, genetic predisposition, poor diet, and high blood pressure. As of now, there exist no blood or urine screens that can detect kidney cancer. When cancer is suspected, your doctor will most likely order an imaging panel that may include a CT or ultrasound. Additional testing also may in order and are exemplified by X-Rays or MRI.

Radical Nephrectomy versus Partial Nephrectomy

In some cases, it becomes necessary to remove the entire kidney in a procedure known as a radical nephrectomy. Alternatives to total loss are becoming better known such as an emerging surgical technique, called partial nephrectomy. A partial nephrectomy aims to excise only the diseased part of the organ and spare the healthy kidney tissues.

Sparing kidney tissue is important because studies show that patients who retain their entire organ are less likely to suffer from chronic kidney disease after surgery.

pdfda Vinci® Nephrectomy Brochure

Surgical Treatment Options

Thermal Ablation is an alternative therapy for kidney cancer that is designed to treat the cancerous tissue using extreme temperatures. Cryotherapy freezes the tissue to kill cancer cells whereas high radiofrequencies uses heat to destroy cancer cells. Studies have shown however that patients treated with ablation had significantly higher rates of cancerous recurrence.

Open Surgical Approach is traditionally performed by making a large incision in the abdomen to access the diseased kidney. A conventional laparoscopic technique is also employed as it is less invasive, but limits the doctor’s dexterity, vision and control.

Laparoscopic Surgery entails the surgeon making several small incisions using telescoping equipment to view and remove the bladder. While this type of surgery takes a bit longer, it is typically less painful during recovery.

da Vinci ® Partial Nephrectomy

The robotic da Vinci Surgical System uses state-of-the-art technology to help your doctor provide a high standard of surgical care. The benefits for the patients of this type of procedure include reduced recovery time, low volume of blood loss, and precision in targeting specific organ areas, lower rate of post operative complications. If your doctor is able to preserve any portion of a healthy, functioning kidney, it can greatly help to prevent future kidney disease and even mitigate the need for dialysis.