I have had a kidney removed due to kidney cancer. This was a stage I cancer. Is there any additional treatment I can receive to prevent possibel spread of the cancer.
Treatment for Stage I Renal Cell Carcinoma is radical nephrectomy (removal of the kidney). In some instances, a partial nephrectomy may be indicated. The 5-year survival rate is around 60-70%. There are various treatment options to treat metastatic tumor (cancer that is spreading). Because your cancer was Stage I, however, that means that it was confined to the capsule of the kidney and had not spread. Before your surgery, you likely had an imaging study to determine the extent of spread--the Stage-- of the cancer. This study was likely a CT/CAT scan. Now that the cancer is removed, a pathology report can confirm if in fact the cancer was still confined to the kidney.
There have been studies done in which patients have received postoperative radiation therapy. The idea behind this was to sterilize any left over microscopic/ gross tumor. However, this treatment did not lead to increased survival rates.
The key aspects of your management now is follow-up for tumor recurrence. You should be seen 4-6 weeks after your surgery for follow-up. Then, subsequent surveillance for recurrence every 6 months for 4 years and then yearly. The studies that may be obtained include serial CT scans, chest x-rays, liver function tests and renal function tests. Sometimes, renal cell carcinoma can elevate the liver function tests without evidence of spreading there. Be aware of the symptoms which may indicate cancer recurrence: anorexia, weight loss, hematuria, pain/mass in the flank or bone pain.
Therapy for metastatic disease includes chemotherapy and immunotherapy. The side effects of these agents are too risky to be administered without some sort of documentation of tumor recurrence. At this point, you should stay positive and diligently comply with your follow-up.
More individualized care is available at the Henry Ford Hospital and its suburban campuses at (1 800 653 6568). We can also arrange local accommodations through this number if this is your need. Please bring any physicians
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