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Treatment for renal tumors can depend on the type of growth and may include medications as well as surgery for tumor removal. The first step is detailed diagnostic testing to find out what kind of tumor is present and check it to determine if it will more susceptible to one treatment option than another. With this information, a treatment plan may incorporate several options. Patients can discuss the risks and benefits, including the prognosis with various treatments, to decide on the best one for them.
Renal tumors can cause symptoms like difficulty urinating, dark urine, and pain in the abdomen. Blood tests, medical imaging studies, and direct biopsy of the growth can provide more information about what it is. In the case of small and benign renal tumors, the best approach may be one of watchful waiting. Rather than taking any direction action, patients wait to see if it grows or causes problems. If it doesn’t, it may simply be left alone.
Other tumors may need to be removed surgically. Some benign growths grow large enough to interfere with kidney function, requiring removal of the growth, a partial nephrectomy, or complete removal of the involved kidney. Malignant growths require surgical removal to limit the chance of spreading. This can include excision of neighboring lymph nodes in case the cancer is traveling to them.
During preparation for surgery, medical imaging can indicate whether the tumor is metastasizing to neighboring organs. Testing can also show the origin of the tumor; if it started growing somewhere other than the kidneys, the patient may need more radical surgery and aggressive treatment. In cases where the cancer has metastasized to other locations, these regions also require treatment.
If a renal tumor is cancerous, the patient may need chemotherapy and radiation to attack remaining cancer cells after surgery. These treatments limit the risk of recurrence. In addition, patients can consider targeted therapy with medications like monoclonal antibodies that lock onto receptors found on cancer cells, or antiangiogenesis medications that cut off the blood supply. Biologic therapies to boost the immune system are also available and can be considered for renal tumors.
Once patients have received treatment for renal tumors, they need follow-up evaluations to check for signs of recurrence. The may continue for several months or years to confirm that the patient is safe. If the growth starts to develop again, it may be necessary to consider other treatment options. Metastatic renal tumors can have a very poor prognosis, as they may be aggressive. Early treatment can increase the chance of survival and improve the patient’s quality of life.