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Recovery after partial nephrectomy for cancer
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Recovery after partial nephrectomy for cancer

I am six weeks post-op from a partial nephrectomy for renal cell carcinoma.  I have done well in the recovery period, only complication was a UTI which was treated with an antibiotic. The pain is minimal at this time, controlled by Advil if needed.  I find am unable to do physical work for more than an hour without getting shaky and sweaty......when can I expect to return to normal tolerance for activity?
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35 Comments Post a Comment
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Avatar_dr_m_tn
Hi.  I think the question of recovery from the surgery is best answered by the doctor who is treating you, since he can actually examine you and tell you what else you need to do to hasten your recovery.  In general, the speed of recovery would depend on how strong the patient's body is prior to the surgery, and the presence of any other chronic illnesses (e.g. heart disease, diabetes, COPD) which may hamper full recovery.
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Avatar_f_tn
Thank you for taking time to answer my query.  My doctor thinks I am doing fine so I imagine I am just impatient.
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Avatar_n_tn
My sis ter had the partial nephrectomy in November 06.  She did
have cancer and the surgery was done at Univ of Michigan Hospital.
However, she still has skin pain in that area.  She cannot even wear
a pair of jeans. She is only 120 lbs and 5ft 4. She has to wear loose
fitting clothing because clothes rubbing on it hurts her.  She has tried
lidocaine patches and topical creams made with ketoconazole and
a few other ingredients.  NOthing has worked.  The doctor's are
stumped.  Any suggestions.

Thanking you in advance.

***@****
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Avatar_dr_m_tn
Hi.  If the area beneath the skin is not inflamed, one reason for the pain your sister is experiencing may be that the surgery caused some damage to nerves supplying that area, resulting in what is called neuropathic pain.  Your sister may try taking some medications to control neuropathic pain, such as gabapentin (Neurontin) or pregabalin (Lyrica), which can be added to the pain medication she is already taking.  
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Avatar_n_tn
I am 2 weeks out from having the partial neophrectomy (open) surgery and I am curious as to how well should I feel by now.  Can any one help?  
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Avatar_m_tn
hi,
i was diagnosed at 18 with renal cell carsinoma last may 09 and had a partial nephrectomy 2 weeks later. there were a few minor complications post op, (infections) as far as i know they got it all and im cancer free, however, since surgery i have had sever flank pain almost immobilizing me, it is constant and follows with severe nausea. i am currently on pain medication and phenegrin for the nausea. i have taken gabapentin and lyrica and neither worked so the doctors ruled out nerve damage. i have been told that i have excess scarring on my kidney and that it is common in mediteranian skin (im italian) i have had ct scans and blood work and everything else you could immagine and i am tired of pain medication and have been taking it way too long. (they are not working and i do not wish to up my dosage) my question is, can excess scarring be causing this much pain and how do i fix it. and what else might be causing this pain.
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Avatar_f_tn
Hi, I had a partial nephrectomy on Feb 4, 2010, my problem is I have a large amount of fluid in the area of my scar.  This makes me look lop sided.  My clothes don't look right on me and it is very upsetting.  My whole right side is swollen.  No one seems to know if this will go away.  I would appreciate hearing from anyone who has had this problem.
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Avatar_f_tn
Hello, i had a partial nephrectomy on feb 3,2009 on my left side,and I still have that ugly uneven look. if i tense up my muscles it looks like a "ski slope". the doctor told me "it looks great" i think he's crazy. my scar is 13" kinda like a rainbow. I'm hoping it still will regain it's smoother shape.
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Avatar_f_tn
I had my surgery in 2008, at first I had a slight "tube shape" above my surgical incision, this has grown to be a decidedly large "lump" in that area.  My surgeon has said it may be a small incisional hernia but is most likely muscle which bulges due to nerve damage in the incisional area.  He said basically I should just live with it as any repair would be worse than putting up with the disfiguration.  I have had to stop wearing belts or anything tight in the waist area and I wear loose tops.  My cancer check up was negative at the two year mark so I am learning to be grateful for that and disregard the side effect of the surgery.  I don't have the pain that someone mentioned and for that i am really grateful!
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Avatar_m_tn
I had my opn on my left kidney on feb 25th this year. I too have a bulge in the front just above the incision mark. Have seen my urologist who performed the op and he was not very concerned about it as the ultrasound scan (done after 2 months) was clear. Have read in other forums that the swelling takes some time to go away !
The bulge is prominent when I am standing up and seems to flatten out abit when I am sitted or lying down. Wonder whether you experience the same ?
Sorry if I have not answered your query. God Bless and take care.
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Avatar_m_tn
I have robotic partial nephrectomy on my left kidney on april 2010. I had 3 cm  tumor  on this kidney. What is the long time of survival after partial nephrectomy ?
thanks for the answer
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Avatar_m_tn
I have partial nephrectomy for RCC 2 months ago. The cancer was an papillary cancer wtih stage T3N0M0. The  size was 3.5 X 2 cm and the cancer  spreaded in the fatty tissue around the tumor. Why the surgeon did not remove all the kidney ?
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1509809_tn?1290022574
I had OPN on October 1, 2010 to remove 3.9 cm cyst. PET/CT scan confirms all cancer was removed.  Going into seventh week postop returned to work two weeks ago part-time. Surgery left me cancer free (YIPEE) with 8" scar.  The top if my scar remains swelled and I have no feeling below the scare.  My pain flextulates from day-to-day and I tire very easily.  Surfing through internet in search of someone that can let me know when pain should leave and when energy level should return.  After working four to six hours I can barely stand up straight to walk.  I have found wearing a support arround my waist seems to control some of the pain and gives me a slightly better range of motion.  Please let me know if anyone out there can tell me how long it took them to be pain free (or tolerable) and when they were able to return to their usual activiy patterns with usual energy levels??? Thanks. Glad to be cancer free!!!!
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Avatar_n_tn
I had my partial nephrectomy surgery on my right kidney on September 20, 2010.  It's been two months and my right side is still very swollen, tight, and numb.  I just went back to work a week ago.  I get very exhausted quickly and started experiencing sharp pain under my incision.  I had begun to get frustrated over the pace of my recovery until I found message boards like this one to see that I'm not alone.  I thought that about 6 weeks post op that things would be back to normal.  How mistaken I was!  I see that its going to be a long process.  However, I am thankful and blessed to be cancer free.  This message board and others are very therapudic for me.
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Avatar_f_tn
I had a partial nephrectomy October 11th 2010.  I am at eight weeks now, and just went back to work.  I get exhausted very easily, and if I over do it get sore and swollen. I do have swelling above my incision that seems better at night.  Occassionlly I have pain in the area of my kidney, more like a twinge that can go on for a while or just be random. I wondered if anyone else feel this also.  I will be so glad to get some stamina back, but I guess all of these things are much better than the alternative.
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Avatar_n_tn
My mom just had a partial nephrectomy 5 days ago and was going to be released from the hospital but has been running a 100 degree fever.  They said this was normal but aren't releasing her to keep an eye on it.  Is this normal and has anyone experienced this?
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Avatar_f_tn
I have just gone through a partial nephrectomy and have more questions than answers... I have to have my left kidney removed next. I had RCC in both and am wondering if anyone else has experienced this?
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Avatar_m_tn
Yes, I have/had RCC on both kidneys.  I had an open partial on left on Jan 3 and will have an MRI in 6 months to determine how best to take care of the right side.  I am feeling pretty well.  I have the same bulge others are talking about.  My doc says it takes 6 months for the muscles to heal and could take at least a year for the swelling to go down.

I wish you well
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Avatar_f_tn
I had a open partial nephrectomy 5 weeks ago. I had a 7 cm tumor removed. I am grateful to be cancer free. my scar is about 17 inches my pain and swelling seems to be worsening I think I'm just frustrated with the recovery. During surgery the dr.s punctured my lungs and the left lung collapsed so I also had a breathing tube my ribs hurt to. i feel numb I'm walking lop sided . .I feel tingling in my feet. .is it nerve damage? I need to go back to work next week I'm struggling financially my husband and I separated 2 weeks ago and my best friend died 3 weeks ago I am emotionally drained depending on my 19 yr old for everything. Im looking for hope. should I wear a support belt?? Do I rest or increase activity?? Someone HELP please email me ***@****
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Avatar_f_tn
Just had a partial nephrectomy on Nov13th. I am having numbness and sever pain in the kidney and am being told by my doctor that I should no longer be in pain. Am I crazy? Btw it was RCC (left side) I'm glad to be cancer free but the pain won't quit. Please let me know if this is normal?.
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Avatar_m_tn
It sounds like you may have what is called a "flank Bulge." This happens from cutting one of the thoracic intercostal nerves, usually nerve 11 or 12. Unfortunely there is not much you can do about if one of these nerves is severed. I do core exercises, but I amconcerned this may be making my bulge worse. My partial nephrectom was in August 2008.


Jon
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Avatar_f_tn
I read your post and it sounded like something I would write as I am in exactly the same boat as you.  Your post is from 3 years ago, just wondering how your bulge is now?  I am 7 months post-op and was told my bulge is not fixable.
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Avatar_f_tn
Unfortunately, not good news.  I am now 5 years post surgery and the bulge is worse then ever.  At my five year CT scan it showed a small amount of bowel in the incisional area.  Again my doctor said I should watch for worsening but did not recommend surgery to repair the area.  Now I am worried I may be damaging the area as I am pretty active with gardening - lifting, digging, and carrying.  
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5661893_tn?1371894735
I'm 5 weeks out post OP. I had a right open postural Nephrectomy. I'm a over all healthy 31 year old female. I too have had a lot of abdominal pain post surgery. But my pain is just about 2 inches above my belly button off to the right. It aches 24\7 I did have VA CT scan to of now after having 5 I am deathly allergic to CT contrast. Landed me in the hospital for 3.5 days. Ugh!
They did get results to the scan..which only showed fluid retention under the muscle and skin....  :( this frustrates me, because I have no clue if the reason why it still hurts. I have also been running a low grade fever since surgery. 99.9 to 101.4 ??I over all feel ok just achy and some pain....so if anybody has been experiencing this,or had it figured out please share! Thanks fir your time! God Bless you all!!! Oh and my cancer was Chromophobe Renal Cell Carcinoma...
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Avatar_m_tn
Hi. I know it has been a little over a year since your post, but I am having what appears to be the same problem, and was wondering if your bulge went away. I donated my kidney five weeks ago, and I am freaking out over this bulge on my right abdominal area.The incision looks good, but the bulge concerns me. I had a CAT scan done a few weeks ago and the doc said, "Everything looks good", but I had a completely flat stomach and now I look like I have a lopsided pregnancy. I hope to get a response. Thank you, sincerely.
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Avatar_m_tn
Oops...I meant to say, "A little over three years since your post." Nonetheless, I hope to here a positive reply. Thanx. I've been crying a lot over this...and praying.
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Avatar_m_tn
I had a partial nephrectomy done back in November of last year.  About 2 months after my surgery I was still having pain and the "buldge" showed up.  Here it is September and I have debilitating pain and the "buldge" is bigger than ever.  I have had countless CT's, Ultrasounds, and am on high doses of Loritab for pain which I can't take at work.  I can't walk around Wal-Mart for more than 20 minutes with my wife then I am pushing the cart trying to keep myself up from all the pain and tightness.  I have had surgeons tell me that there is no hernia and I am fine and its something I am going to have to get used to.  This is unacceptable.  I am in  the military and have to keep and certian weight. They do a body fat test on me with a tape measure and the where they tape is exactly where the "buldge" is.  This is affecting my way of life.  I can't work out, I can't walk, I can't play with my kids.  I know I'm ranting on but is there anyone out there that might have a solution.  Me and my wife are at the end of our ropes.
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Avatar_f_tn
My urologist sent me for a CT scan to see exactly what was going on with my bulge.  The CT scan shows that I have a 7cm neck (aka HOLE!) and that the hernia "contains multiple uncomplicated loops of small bowel".  Lovely.  I was told that if the hole was smaller there would be risk of bowel strangulation, but since the hole is as large as it is, bowel strangulation should not happen.  I was also told that as I get older, the hole can get bigger.   He is referring me to a general surgeon who he says "fixes these all the time".  First, I'm wondering, WHY do I have a hole?  Did the urologist not sew me up properly after the nephrectomy - which I had laparoscopically?  I will go see the general surgeon to see what my options are, but I am very reluctant to have this hernia repaired as I have read a lot of stories that indicate the hernia/bulge can return, or worse complications, mostly rigidness and chronic pain.  Right now, aside from the very unsightly bulge (big as a grapefruit), I don't have much pain from in.  I wear abdominal binders for support.  I wear those 24/7 and it helps, and I hope it will prevent the bulge from getting bigger.  I'm frustrated!
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Avatar_f_tn
so glad I found this board. I had partial nephrectomy Jan. 2014,felt pretty good for about 4 weeks until post-surgery follow up.  A few days before I went in, I knew I was getting a UTI (suddenly going to bathroom all the time,or feeling like I had to) so asked surgeon to check urine, and was told it was okay except for small amount of blood, which was to be expected, but follow up with family Dr.  It got worse, and did get an antibiotic called in.  Seemed to take care of it, but now I am sore most of the time (area right below scar area -about the size of my hand.  I was convinced that something had gone horribly wrong or had developed a hernia.  I just assumed that since it was pretty pain free for a couple of weeks, I was over the worst.  But now, reading all your comments(while I was going to give it another week, before calling Dr.-which I will still do-as I can see it can be a result of other things and , now feel more knowledgable(?) about real concerns..  I feel I had a very good Dr. but , should have done much more research or been better informed of how long the recovery could take. Did anyone else have reaction like this, where they felt better and , then, started dealing with constant pain and uncomfortableness?
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Avatar_m_tn
Hi,I can sympathise with your frustration as I am 4 weeks post op after open partial nephrectomy and still experiencing alot of pain also.My 17 year old daughter is due to give birth in 6 weeks and now my 26 year old who is living back home now has to have heart surgery for w.p.w so hoping this pain subsides soon,all the very best to your in your recovery,blessings to you
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Avatar_m_tn
I had an open partial neprectomy 5 wks ago and I have constant pain in my lung when taking a deep breath, coughing, sneezing or anything that involves any type of chest movement. I also have pain in my left arm a lot of the time especially in bed or when just sat. I am waiting for an app to go for a ct scan, but all the same very worrying. Happy to be cancer free but very uncomfortable. Has anyone had the same problem.?
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Avatar_m_tn
I had a partial nephrectomy of my right kidney September 11, 2013.  I too have the bulge and abdominal tightness..  I had a 3.5 by4.5cm clear cell rena cell carcinoma removed.  I still have debilitating pain that they call flank pain?? I feel it internally its the same internal pain I felt post op just not that severe.  Let me tell you when I came out from anesthesia I hurt so bad I thought I was dying and tried to literally get out of bed and run.  My energy level is horrible. I still have night sweats worse than before and low grade fevers, high blood pressure.  I have since post op developed diabetes also.  My doctor says I'm not overweight and my pain is not uncommon. I am like a few of you who the meds don't help the pain and the doctors are dismissive of my symptoms and I am have sucha bad time of this. but looking for a better tomorrow.
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Avatar_m_tn
My mother had a partial done Sept. 2,2014. She is 74   She is still in bed probably 20 hrs out of 24   And says jt hurts to get up. Can anyone tell me is this the normal.
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Avatar_f_tn
I just had a partial robotic kidney removal and I stayed in the hospital for four days and the pain has been so bad I thought this was going to be easier does anyone know how long this pain lasts.It hurts to breathe at times and it's actually hard to speak and I see people who left the hospital two nights later and are back to work two weeks later I don't understand why this is so hard.
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Avatar_m_tn
It has been a year now since my operation.  CAT scan showed no cancer but a possible hernia in my lovely bulge that I still have. just now regaining sensation in my skin around surgical site.   I have still not turned the corner on my energy level, I still have night sweats, and still feel a lot of pain from the removal of the rib section.  I am quite angry with my doctors I don't feel like I was communicated with honestly on what to expect or what was actually going to happen.  I encourage everyone reading to ask questions before and after and never accept anything you don't feel is applicable to your situation.
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