Kidney Cancer

Kidney cancer can form in the small tubes inside the kidney. Those tubes located in the center of the kidney where urine collects are used to filter blood.

Each year, kidney cancer is diagnosed in about 54,000 Americans and more than 13,000 do not survive the disease. Kidney cancer is slightly more common in men and usually diagnosed between the ages of 50 and 70. The most common kidney cancer is called renal cell carcinoma.

With early diagnosis and treatment, kidney cancer can be cured. And if found early, the survival rate for patients with kidney cancer ranges from 79 to 100 percent.

Treatment options

Kidney cancer is fairly resistant to radiation and chemotherapy. As a result, the gold-standard treatment for localized kidney cancer is surgical removal of the kidney or kidney tumors.

  • Traditionally, kidney surgery is performed using an open approach, which means a surgeon makes a large incision in the abdomen.
  • A second approach is laparoscopy, which is less invasive, but limits the doctor's dexterity, vision, and control, as compared to open surgery.
  • A third new minimally invasive robotic-assisted technique uses the da Vinci Surgical System.

Da Vinci for kidney conditions

Using the da Vinci Surgical System for kidney cancer incorporates the best techniques of open surgery and applies them to a robotic-assisted, minimally invasive approach. The precision and dexterity of this state-of-the-art technology, including a high-resolution, 3D picture of a patient's anatomy, allows your surgeon to perform a more precise operation than conventional surgery.

If a large tumor is present, the surgeon may need to remove the entire kidney. If a tumor is smaller and not invading other parts of the body, a partial nephrectomy may be performed. In this procedure, the surgeon removes only the cancerous portion of the kidney, allowing the healthy kidney tissue to remain.

For most patients, benefits of da Vinci surgery for kidney cancer include:

  • Less blood loss
  • Less scarring
  • Significantly less pain
  • Fewer complications
  • A shorter hospital stay
  • A faster return to normal daily activities
  • Increased potential for kidney preservation in certain prescribed cancer operations
  • Better clinical outcomes in many cases
All surgical procedures are both patient- and procedure-specific. While surgery using the da Vinci Surgical System is considered safe and effective, this procedure may not be appropriate for every individual. Always ask your doctor about all treatment options, as well as the risks and benefits.


Da Vinci robotic-assisted partial nephrectomy is used to treat tumors of the kidney by removing only the cancerous tissue and leaving the remaining healthy kidney tissue behind. This procedure allows the patient to have maximum kidney function while still adequately removing the cancerous tissue.

Da Vinci robotic-assisted radical nephrectomy is used if the cancer is more advanced and the entire kidney must be removed.