Duke’s kidney cancer specialists use the latest medical and surgical advances to find and treat kidney cancer at the earliest possible stage and provide you with the latest treatment options. As a high-volume center, we routinely perform complex procedures, both with intent to cure as well as to provide the best possible future therapy that is needed. You receive personalized care and access to clinical trials based on your type of kidney cancer.
Medical Advances in Kidney Cancer
Physicians and surgeons in our nationally ranked cancer center — one of the first National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers in the nation — care for kidney cancer patients daily. If your kidney cancer has spread to blood vessels or other organs, our surgeons are expertly equipped to perform complex surgery, give you the latest treatment options and achieve the best possible results for you.
Choose Duke for your kidney cancer treatment because we offer:
- Experience with more complex surgeries. When kidney cancer spreads near or into the heart and other organs, our experts are equipped to perform the complex surgeries needed to achieve positive results.
- Convenient, same-day appointments. Whenever possible, your appointments are arranged within a week of your first contact with us. Our doctors work together to schedule and offer you convenient, same-day appointments for oncology, surgery, and imaging. You leave with a comprehensive treatment plan for your care.
- Access to clinical trials. You may be eligible to participate in our ongoing clinical trials, which are testing new anti-cancer targeted therapies, as well as other new approaches before they become available elsewhere.
- More minimally invasive surgery options. Depending on the size of your tumor, its location, and other factors, we may recommend minimally invasive surgery options to remove the tumor. These treatment options help you recover faster.
- A team of specialists. Our urologic oncologists, radiation oncologists, and medical oncologists work together to ensure you receive the best and latest treatment options.
- When kidney cancer spreads to the brain or spine. New treatments are making it possible for people to live longer, with a better quality of life, when cancer has spread to the brain or spine. Duke experts in the medical and surgical management of metastatic brain and spine tumors use these advanced therapies to extend life for people who may have been told they are out of options.
- Comforting environment. Our new Duke Cancer Center features spacious waiting areas, a Quiet Room, large infusion rooms, and a rooftop garden area where patients — based on their treatment regimen — can receive chemotherapy outdoors.
- Good outcomes for advanced cancers. Our ability to remove kidney cancer, and the areas to which it may spread, continually results in good outcomes, including long-term survival.
- Support for you and your family. Our comprehensive cancer support services range from helping patients minimize the side effects of treatment, to coping with the emotional and psychological effects of diagnosis and treatment. View all of our cancer support groups in our event calendar.
Small, slow-growing kidney tumors may be monitored to avoid the need for more aggressive treatment before it becomes medically necessary.
Minimally invasive surgery, including robotic approaches, require small incisions passed through lighted tubes. It may be a treatment option depending on the size and stage of your kidney cancer, and may quicken your recovery time with less pain. CT, MRI and ultrasound create high-quality images that guide surgeons during the procedure, and allow them to remove as much cancer as possible.
Extreme heat and freezing temperatures are used to remove or “ablate” small kidney tumors during these minimally invasive techniques, which are performed as outpatient procedures. Radiofrequency ablation relies on heat generated through electrodes at a high frequency. Cryotherapy uses freezing gases in a similar fashion. Both types of energy are targeted at the kidney through a needle-like probe which is inserted into the kidney with advanced imaging guidance.
Urologic surgeons who are specially trained in vascular techniques perform complex surgery, including blood vessel reconstruction, when tumors spread through the vascular system. Our patients experience positive outcomes as a result of our experience performing more of these surgeries than most centers in the Southeast.
Kills kidney cells with high-energy rays that reach the tumor through external beams emitted from a machine, or through inserted special wires, seeds or wafers implanted near the tumor. While there are limited circumstances when radiation is used for kidney cancer, it is sometimes considered necessary.
Medications that block the growth of blood vessels that feed kidney tumors may help shrink your tumor. Other medications we give block certain biological pathways that keep the tumor from growing as it typically would.
Delivered by self-injection, this therapy improves the body’s ability to fight cancer by boosting biologic substances, called BRMs (biologic response modifiers) in the body. BRMs regulate and enhance the body’s immune response, which helps the body fight disease.
Administered orally or through an IV, chemotherapy may be recommended after surgery to slow cancer cells or kill cancer growth. Not considered a standard treatment for kidney cancer, but may be used when kidney cancer doesn't respond to immunotherapy or targeted therapy.
Finding kidney cancer early and getting an accurate diagnosis are key to your health and outcomes.
Find clues to indicate cancer, such as blood in your urine. We monitor levels of your body's byproducts that may show how your disease is progressing. We also check for conditions brought on by cancer through careful assessment of specific blood tests.
In addition to X-rays, CT, MRI and ultrasound may be used to produce high-quality images of your kidney and assess the presence and stage of kidney tumors.
A small amount of low level radioactive material is injected into a vein to determine if cancer has spread to your bones.
A long, thin needle is inserted into the kidney to remove a tiny sample of tissue for examination under a microscope for the presence of cancer.