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Kidney Cancer


Approximately 58,000 cases of kidney cancer will be diagnosed in the United States annually, according to the National Cancer Institute. Kidney cancer has the highest mortality rate of all urological cancers.

The causes of kidney cancer are not known, but some risk factors have been identified, including smoking, genetic disorders, extended use of pain medications (including over-the-counter brands) and environmental exposure to chemicals such as asbestos and cadmium. 

Symptoms of kidney cancer can vary, but can include:

  • Lower back pain on one side (flank area)
  • Blood in the urine,
  • A mass in the flank area

Why NorthShore

The John and Carol Walter Center for Urological Health offers centralized treatment and access to the breadth of needs a patient diagnosed with kidney cancer may require.  Surgical oncologists from the Walter Center (board-certified urologists specially trained to surgically treat urological cancers) are part of a multidisciplinary team that includes physicians from NorthShore Kellogg Cancer Center, including medical oncologists, radiation oncologists and radiologists, who meet regularly to discuss each patient’s case in detail and to design personalized treatment plans. This meeting of the minds provides each patient with an individualized care plan to create the path for the most successful outcome.

Further, NorthShore offers the most leading edge technology for treating kidney cancer, including minimally invasive, robotic and image-guided ablative surgery.


Physicians first determine the extent of the cancer, including whether it has spread to other areas of the body, and treatment options will be recommended based on the stage of cancer.  Because kidney cancer typically does not respond well to chemotherapy or radiation therapy, surgery is the most effective initial treatment. 

NorthShore offers every type of surgical modality to treat kidney cancer. Advances in minimally invasive, robotic and image-guided ablative surgery have given patients with kidney cancer more options that result in smaller incisions that normally result in less pain, less blood loss and a more rapid return to normal activities.

Minimally invasive surgery options for kidney cancer include:

  • Kidney Cryoablation is a minimally invasive procedure that uses advanced imaging technology to place ablation probes directly through the skin to destroy cancer tumors using cold energy.
  • Radiofrequency Ablation is a minimally invasive procedure that uses advanced imaging to place ablation probes directly through the skin to destroy cancer tumors using heat energy.
  • Single Port (Scarless) Laparoscopy is a minimally invasive procedure in which an incision is made in the patient’s belly button (umbilicus) and a port is inserted by which a laparoscope and instruments are inserted to view and remove the tumor.
  • Robotic surgery is a type of laparoscopic surgery that involves operating through quarter-inch “keyhole” incisions with robotic instruments that are directly controlled by surgeons. The robotic instruments help surgeons perform a very detailed surgery with greater dexterity and precise movement—all within a very small space—to remove kidney tumors.

For More Information

For more information or to schedule an appointment, please call 847.503.3000.