Tumors or cancer of the kidney may be associated with blood in the urine, back or abdominal pain, or may be picked up on routine ultrasound or CT evaluation of the abdomen. If the tumor is contained on the inside of the kidney when discovered, the cancer can be cured by an operation to remove the kidney. This operation has traditionally been performed through a 10 or 12 inch incision in the side of the abdomen. However, laparoscopic surgery can, in certain cases, now be performed to remove kidneys involved with cancer using the same technique as used at open surgery. This surgery involves the placement of four or five 1/2-inch to 3/4-inch incisions made on the abdomen through which a telescope and dissecting instruments are inserted to perform removal of the kidney by tying off and cutting the blood vessels and the ureter to the kidney. For accurate pathologic diagnosis, it may be necessary to make a small 2- to 3-inch incision to remove the kidney so that the pathologist can examine it as one whole piece.
Early detection of the cancer is the most important factor in controlling the cancer. The laparoscopic removal of the kidney is less painful and allows the patient to return to regular activities more quickly compared to the open incision.