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Why keep the kidney?

Posts: 1
Joined: Jul 2005

Hello everyone. Hoping to get some information/opinions.

When a malignant tumor is found on the kidney (stage 1, no matistiss), why wouldn't you want to completely remove the kidney if you have another healthy one? Is there a benefit to keeping a portion of it? My thought is to "get that thing out ~ we don't want the cancer coming back!"

Why is the surgeon pushing for a partial removal and to "save" as much of the kidney as possible?

Thanks so much!

Chicago's picture
Posts: 73
Joined: Apr 2004

Basically, because two kidneys are better than one.

I have been told by my docs that, in a worst case scenario, you could still function and survive on as much as one third of one healthy kidney. So if all or most of one kidney was compromised by a tumor, they will usually take the whole thing out.

But your situation does not sound like the whole kidney has been compromised. They can usually see (prior to surgery) whether a Stage 1 tumor has spread within the kidney.

As I understand it, there is no greater risk of the cancer coming back in the affected kidney than there would be in the other one. And if you take one whole kidney out now, but the cancer reappears in the other kidney later, you're screwed.

It is usually a good rule of thumb to keep as much as you can. People lose kidneys every day to physical injuries. It would always be good to have a backup.

We only found my cancer in one kidney because I developed kidney stones in the other. Kidney stones are usually not serious in one kidney (just incredibly painful), because you have another one to keep working. Kidney stones could become very serious though, if you only have the one kidney.

I had the same diagnosis as you, and I am very happy today to still have (nearly) two functioning kidneys.

Posts: 1
Joined: Feb 2008

I had a right radical nephrectomy about 6 weeks ago and am now having sharp pains in the area of my remaining left kidney when I move around. I have no pain when I sit still. You had kidney stones,what were your symptoms? You mentioned more potential problems with kidney stones if you have one kidney. Can you elaborate. Thanks

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