What Is the Treatment for a Renal Neoplasm?

H. Colledge

A renal neoplasm, which is an abnormal growth in the kidney, will be treated differently according to whether it is benign or malignant. Rarely, a benign renal neoplasm, which is not cancerous, is found and it may be monitored for symptoms, while others may need to be removed surgically. Malignant kidney neoplasms are cancerous and their treatment will depend on how far an individual neoplasm has spread and whether a cure is possible. In the early stages, where neoplasms have not spread beyond the kidney, renal surgery to remove the tumor could provide a cure. Other treatments such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy and immune therapy may also be used to treat renal neoplasms.

Kidneys in the abdomen.
Kidneys in the abdomen.

The most common type of renal neoplasm is a cancer known as renal cell carcinoma. For cases which have not spread to other parts of the body, kidney surgery is the treatment most frequently carried out, and this might be combined with radiotherapy and chemotherapy. Surgery can sometimes be carried out using keyhole methods, where cuts are smaller than in conventional operations. Typically, the entire kidney is removed, as the kidneys have excess capacity and people are able to survive with less than one whole one. If a renal neoplasm is small, it could be possible to remove only part of the kidney, and this could be preferable in patients who have renal disorders affecting the opposite kidney.

Radiotherapy, such as with a linear accelerator, might be used to help treat a renal neoplasm.
Radiotherapy, such as with a linear accelerator, might be used to help treat a renal neoplasm.

When a renal neoplasm is more advanced and has progressed beyond the kidney, a cure is no longer possible but a range of treatments are available. As for early stage tumors, surgery may be carried out, and chemotherapy and radiation therapy could be employed to destroy tumor cells. Doctors might also use substances from the immune system which act against tumor growth. In patients who are too unwell to undergo surgery, a treatment is sometimes used which blocks the arteries supplying blood to the renal neoplasm, causing the tumor to die off.

Sometimes, tumor cells spread from a renal neoplasm and travel to parts of the body such as the lungs. There, they grow to form new tumors. In cases where only one such tumor is found, it can be possible to remove the section of the lung in which it is located. With treatment, the outlook for patients with an early stage renal neoplasm is positive, with most surviving for at least five years from the time of their diagnosis. For patients who are treated for advanced disease, the outlook is not as good, with only around 20 percent expected to be alive after five years.

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