A comprehensive set of services for those seeking diagnosis and treatment options for cancer.

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Kidney Cancer

The Urology Clinic at UAB treats patients with kidney cancer through a team of specialists who work together to pool their vast experience and knowledge to provide a national standard of care. Because our clinic affords you the opportunity to see multiple specialists, your treatment time – and stress – is dramatically decreased, resulting in a personal care plan that is truly comprehensive.

Our Services
UAB offers comprehensive kidney cancer screening, care and treatment for our patients, and provides the following services:

  • Kidney cancer diagnosis
  • Kidney cancer education
  • Renal transplant
  • Urologic radiation

Our Team of Experts
The Urology Clinic is made up of physicians dedicated to treating kidney cancer with the latest most effective technology and procedures. Because our physicians are specialists in urology and work with hematology, surgical oncology, radiation oncology, and continence, you can rest assured you’re receiving the best care available. We work with specialists in other areas of care when necessary to give you a comprehensive approach to treatment.

Search our physician directory to learn more about our team.

The Kirklin Clinic at UAB, 5th Floor
2000 6th Avenue South
Birmingham, AL 35233

Symptoms and Signs
The following are the most common symptoms of kidney cancer. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:

  • blood in the urine
  • rapid, unexplained weight loss
  • loss of appetite
  • mass or lump in the belly
  • fatigue
  • recurrent fever (not caused by a cold or the flu)
  • anemia (less frequently)
  • unrelieved pain in the side or back

The symptoms of kidney cancer may resemble other conditions or medical problems. Always consult your physician for a diagnosis.

Diagnosis and Treatment

In addition to a complete medical history and physical examination, diagnostic procedures for kidney cancer may include the following:

  • blood and urine laboratory tests
  • intravenous pyelogram (IVP) - a series of x-rays of the kidney, ureters, and bladder with the injection of a contrast dye into the vein - to detect tumors, abnormalities, kidney stones, or any obstructions, and to assess renal blood flow.
  • computed tomography scan (Also called a CT or CAT scan.) - a non-invasive procedure that takes cross-sectional images of the brain or other internal organs; to detect any abnormalities that may not show up on an ordinary x-ray.
  • other imaging tests (to show the difference between diseased and healthy tissues), including renal angiography, MRI and ultrasound.

Based on results of other tests and procedures, a biopsy may be needed. A biopsy is a procedure in which a sample of the tumor is removed and sent to the laboratory for examination by a pathologist. Biopsy is the only sure way to diagnose cancer.

Specific treatment for kidney cancer will be determined by your physician based on:

  • your age, overall health, and medical history
  • extent of the disease
  • your tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies
  • expectations for the course of the disease
  • your opinion or preference

Treatment may include:

  • surgery
    Surgery to remove the kidney is called a nephrectomy and it is the most common treatment for kidney cancer. The following are different types of nephrectomy procedures:
    • radical nephrectomy - the whole kidney is removed along with the adrenal gland, tissue around the kidney, and, sometimes, lymph nodes in the area.
    • simple nephrectomy - only the kidney is removed.
    • partial nephrectomy - only the part of the kidney that contains the tumor is removed.
    • nephroureterectomy - removal of the entire kidney, urether, and cuff of bladder performed for transitional cell cancer of the kidney.
    The remaining kidney is generally able to perform the work of both kidneys.
  • radiation therapy (Also called radiotherapy.)
    Radiation therapy uses high-energy x-rays to kill cancer cells, and is also sometimes used to relieve pain when kidney cancer has spread to the bone.
  • biological therapy (Also called immunotherapy.)
    Biological therapy is a treatment that uses the body's own immune system to fight cancer.
  • chemotherapy
    Chemotherapy is the use of drugs to kill cancer cells.
  • hormone therapy
    Hormone therapy is used in a small number of patients with advanced kidney cancer to try to control the growth of cancer cells.
  • arterial embolization
    Arterial embolization is a procedure in which small pieces of a special gelatin sponge, or other material, are injected through a catheter to clog the main renal blood vessel. This procedure shrinks the tumor by depriving it of the oxygen-carrying blood and other substances it needs to grow. It may also be used before an operation to make surgery easier, or to provide relief from pain when removal of the tumor is not possible.

New chemotherapy drugs and targeted therapies including thalidomide, Avastin and Tarceva are being studied in kidney cancer. A vaccine for treatment is under study.

Our Clinical Trials
UAB is constantly working to find better treatments and a cure for kidney cancer. Talk to your doctor to see if you are a candidate for one of UAB’s kidney cancer clinical trials.

Last Update

October 31, 2010