Kidney cancer is most often treated with surgery

You may receive more than one type of cancer treatment, depending on several factors, including the grade of the tumor, where it is located and whether it has spread to other parts of your body.

Before we set up a specific treatment plan for your kidney cancer, we will take the following into account:

  • Your age, overall health and medical history
  • The extent of the disease
  • Your tolerance of specific medicines, procedures or therapies
  • Expectations for the course of the disease
  • Your opinion or preference

Your patient care team will sit with you and discuss the options available, so that you can be as informed as possible when making the decision.

3D Imaging

Patient Care is Top of Mind

Introducing Ceevra: Advanced Visualization for Kidney Cancer through Mobile 3D Imaging

Ceevra converts a patient’s standard black-and-white CT scan or MRI into a brilliant, interactive, multi-color 3D digital image that provides surgeons with finer detail and a true 3D visualization to help guide decisions on the type of surgery (e.g., radical or partial nephrectomy) and surgical approach (e.g., transperitoneal or retroperitoneal) that is best for each patient. For an even more immersive experience, the 3D models can be viewed in virtual reality using compatible VR headsets. We are pleased to be the first medical center in California to incorporate this groundbreaking technology into our standard practice for patients undergoing a partial or radical nephrectomy.

Dr. Jennifer Linehan, urologist, and associate professor of urology and urologic oncology, uses Ceevra’s Advanced mobile 3D Imaging to view patients CT and MRI scans as a 3D model to not only plan and perform complex operations, but to also help patients better understand their condition and proposed course of treatment.

Watch Dr. Linehan’s video to learn more about this groundbreaking technology:

Effect of 3-Dimensional Virtual Reality Models for Surgical Planning of Robotic-Assisted Partial Nephrectomy on Surgical Outcomes

A Randomized Clinical Trial

Learn how in a single-blind randomized clinical trial involving 92 patients, the use of 3-dimensional virtual reality models reduced the operative time, estimated blood loss, clamp time, and length of hospital stay for kidney cancer patients by reading our publication.


Surgery for Kidney Cancer Treatment

Surgery is the most common treatment for people with kidney cancer.

If one kidney is removed, the remaining kidney will need to do the work of both. However, if your remaining kidney isn’t functioning well, you may need dialysis. Some people may need a kidney transplant.

You can rest assured knowing that we have experts in laparoscopic and robotic-assisted kidney cancer surgery should those procedures be required.

Types of Kidney Cancer Surgery

Removing the entire kidney:

This is called a radical nephrectomy. Your surgeon removes the entire kidney along with the adrenal gland. Lymph nodes in the area may also be removed.

Removing part of the kidney:

This is called a partial nephrectomy. Your surgeon removes only the part of the kidney that contains the tumor. This is done either by a large incision or by laparoscopic surgery.


The surgeon inserts a tool through a small incision or directly through the skin and the tool freezes and kills the kidney tumor.

Laparoscopic surgery

is a minimally invasive robotic-assisted surgery that involves using a robot inserted through a small incision to remove the tumor. We specialize in robotic kidney surgery using the da Vinci Surgical System. A urologic oncologist uses computerized imaging to direct the robot as it performs the procedure. This minimally invasive surgery means less blood loss and pain, and a faster recovery.

Other Treatment Options

Other Kidney Cancer treatments Options

Radiofrequency ablation:

The surgeon inserts a probe through the skin or through a small incision and kills the kidney cancer cells with heat.

Radiation therapy:

This treatment is much like getting an X-ray, but the radiation is much stronger. Kidney cancers are not very sensitive to radiation. The treatment is used most often to ease symptoms of kidney cancer such as pain or bleeding caused by the cancer’s spread.

Targeted therapy:

People with kidney cancer that has spread may receive a type of drug called targeted therapy to shrink a kidney tumor or slow its growth. The drug usually is taken by mouth.


This treatment uses anti-cancer drugs that are given intravenously or by mouth to reach all areas of the body. However, kidney cancer generally is resistant to chemotherapy, so it is not a standard treatment.

Biological therapy:

People with kidney cancer that has spread may receive biological therapy. This treatment is meant to slow the growth of tumors or shrink them. The biological treatment is injected intravenously or under the skin.


At the Saint John’s Cancer Institute, we also prescribe TomoTherapy whenever possible. This advanced radiation treatment uses computer imaging to closely target the kidney cancer. As a result, a higher dose of radiation can be used with less damage to surrounding tissue.


Kidney Cancer Prevention

Recommendations to lower your risk of kidney cancer include:

Quit smoking cigarettes:

Smoking is responsible for a large percentage of cases of kidney cancer.

Maintain a healthy weight:

Obesity and high blood pressure are risk factors for kidney cancer.

Avoid exposure to harmful substances:

Cadmium and organic solvents found in the workplace may be a risk for kidney cancer.

Kidney Cancer Supportive Care

In addition to the expert medical care available from our team of cancer physicians, we offer a host of integrative and wellness services that aim to address the physical, emotional, social, mental, and spiritual needs of patients and their loved ones throughout the cancer journey.