Surgery for Kidney Cancer

Our expert surgeons will evaluate your condition based on such factors as the size and location of the tumor.

Depending on your situation, we may use a standard open surgical approach or a minimally invasive technique using tools, such as laparoscopes (thin, lighted tubes), that can remove tissue.

With robotics we can make small incisions in your abdominal wall. Minimally invasive surgery can reduce your recovery time and lessen your pain after surgery.

Partial Nephrectomy for Kidney Tumors

In this approach, called kidney-sparing (or nephron-sparing) surgery, we remove the tumor but leave some healthy kidney tissue behind. This is done so you can continue to have normal kidney function.

Studies at Memorial Sloan Kettering and other institutions have demonstrated that partial nephrectomy yields similar results to complete nephrectomy if you have small kidney tumors, with the key difference that partial nephrectomy can preserve the function of your kidneys.

Our surgeons are very experienced in doing partial nephrectomy and are often able to offer laparoscopic partial nephrectomy. This is done using a thin, lighted tube that allows the surgeon to remove tissue from affected areas.

Radical Nephrectomy

Sometimes we have to remove the entire kidney in a procedure called radical nephrectomy. Large tumors may force your treatment team to recommend this option.

Surgery for Transitional Cell Tumors

If you have transitional cell tumors of the kidneys and ureters, surgical treatments include either removing the kidney and ureter or partially removing the ureter.

Your surgeon can perform these surgeries with a laparoscope and with robotic-assisted surgery, using smaller incisions. If your treatment team finds a transitional cell tumor on the surface of your renal pelvis or a ureter, laser surgery may be able to spare your kidney. This technique uses a narrow beam of light to remove cancer cells from inside your kidney.

During surgery, your surgeon may remove nearby lymph nodes. Pathologists will examine the lymph nodes to determine whether cancer is present in them.

Surgery for Kidney Cancer That Has Metastasized (Spread)

Our specialized surgeons can treat your cancer even if it has spread. For instance, an MSK vascular surgeon can treat cancer that has spread to your arteries, veins, and smaller blood vessels. An MSK thoracic surgeon can remove cancer that’s spread to your lungs.