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Cancer Treatment Center of America--Kidney Cancer Treatment

Posts: 51
Joined: Nov 2014

Has anyone had their kidney cancer treated at CTCA in Illinios?  I am considering a second opinion from them...the first opinion was through UPMC in Pittsburgh.  How is CTCA in terms of kidney cancer treatment?  Those that have been there..are you pleased, displeased, etc?  I don't mind making the trip if there is truly a difference.



icemantoo's picture
Posts: 3317
Joined: Jan 2010



CTCA is a for profit hospital specializing in individual care and parting money from late stage cancer patients and their insurance companies. That is my opinion. Stick with UPMC or if you want a second opinion seek a large urology practice or another large hospital or medical school in the Pittsburg area. Believe it or not your diagnosis is fairly routine. If it were not and you wanted a world class opinion on Kidney Cancer for a second opinion  I would suggest the Cleveland Clinic which is much closer to you.



APny's picture
Posts: 1998
Joined: Mar 2014

I agree with Iceman. Don't go to a for profit institution. Also, what are you seeking a second opinion on: the diagnosis or the surgery options that were offered you?

Posts: 51
Joined: Nov 2014

I think you are right...I will stick to UPMC. I see that they are ranked 31st in the country in cancer care by US news, and I have heard great things about them.  I was just curious about their wholistic approach to treatment, and I worried that UPMC might take too long to get me scheduled for surgery.  Still in panic stage here and terrified that the tumor has spread.

dhs1963's picture
Posts: 513
Joined: May 2012

One thing is they only accept people where they thing there is a decent chance of a good outcome.  Also, do they have a kidney cancer expert at your site?  Most do not.  You are in Pitt....for a second opinion (which probably is not needed; the tumor has to be removed; the question is who removes it), from Pitt, I would go to one of the following:  Cleaveland Clinic, Johns Hopkins (Baltimore), or Philly (Jefferson?).

Bear in mind, the medical oncologists will not want to see you until after the surgery.  The urological oncologists are surgeons that specialize in urologic cancer surgery.  You want one who knows kidney cancer -- not one who specializes in prostate.  You are near the border where they can do a robotic partial nephrectomy, which is preferred to hand assisted (probably radical).  One thing is you was to preserve as much of the kidney as you can.  Ask how many of these has he done...Ask about robotic partial.  If he can't do it, consider if open partial is an option.  

I had a hand assistented radical.  I now have Cronic Kidney Disease because of the one kidney.  I can not take advil or any other NSAIDs, I can not take many diabetes meds, I can not take IV CT scan contrast.

Posts: 51
Joined: Nov 2014

What do you mean by "right on the boarder" of having a robotically assisted operation?  Is there a certain size tumor that they generally can't effectively use robotics?  I am unaware of the specifics.  Cleveland Clinic is a great hospital as well, and I have an uncle who works in the Philadelphia system.  Maybe I could check with him.

icemantoo's picture
Posts: 3317
Joined: Jan 2010


There are several different surgical options which depend on the size of your tumor, its location and the emphasis of your surgeon and his training.

1. Laproscopic v. open. This has to do with the size of your incision. In the last 15 years most surgeons have been trained laproscopocally. Some very good surgeons only do open. Sometimes they start laproscopically and change to open as a game time decision. Mine was Laproscopic.

2. Partial v. full. In my day they were not doing partials. Partials help save kidney function, they are more difficult and their cure rate is a shade below a full. The availability of a partial has to do with the size and location of your tumor.


3. Robot assisted v. non-robot. Robots were not available in my day. Done right robitic surgery can be more precise.


There are no right or wrong answers to these questions and they are gennerally above my paygrade.

 Others will way in with their thoughts. These are matters your surgeon will discus with you.



Posts: 75
Joined: Sep 2014

Icemantoo is correct.  It all has to do with size, placement of the tumor, and the surgeon.  I had a relatively small 3cm tumor.  Unfortunately for me, it was inside of my kidney pressing up on the renal hilum.  My surgeon was willing to try a partial in hopes of saving some of the kidney, but unfortunately it was not in the cards for me.  I was told it was the worst possible place to have "grown" a tumor.  

Prior to my surgery we discussed different options inclusive of an open vs. robotic procedure.  My surgeon informed me that the technique would not change the outcome of my surgery.  He would only open me up if there was some kind of complication.  



AprilandChuck's picture
Posts: 110
Joined: Feb 2013

You are close enough to the Cleveland Clinic to go to them for a Second Opinion... I have heard pretty amazing things about them!! My Husbands Tumor was large Softball size 8cm+ at the largest section and his Nephectomy was done Lap... with a hand assist... meaning the Surgery was performed... with the Lap.. and a larger incision was made in his Belly Button area for the assisted removal...His recovery was pretty quick... we including his Dr's believe that was due to his dont quit positive attitude... My Husband is being treated at Levine Cancer Institute in Charlotte NC.. which is about a 8 hour drive from Pittsburgh give or take a few.. we have been really happy with his care there... Mom is in Pittsburgh at Hillman... their surgical team is pretty awesome for somethings.. I dont know much about the Kidney Cancer area of the Hospital though..it was a possible second opinion site for us though...

donna_lee's picture
Posts: 999
Joined: Feb 2009

CTCofA- The nearest one to my home here in Oregon was in Phoenix, Arizona.  First they asked if I had insurance.  I told them I had Stage IV kidney cancer with probable metastasis to the liver. Then they said they'd make an appointment and determine a course of treatment.  By the time they called with an appointment date, I'd already been to a Dr. at a regional teaching hospital and the only option was oppen surgery to remove the primary tumor and the mets to the liver...and what ever else they found.  Following surgery, there were no drugs given-as I had no active sites that could be tracked and monitored with the experimental drugs available at the time.  Needless to say, I cancelled anything in Arizona.

If you live in a city where a Center is located and the type of cancer already is known to be affected by radiation and/or chehmotherapy, they may be effective.  But I would never recommend them to a kidney cancer patient.


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