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Kidney Cancer

Screening and Diagnosis | Personalized Treatment | Research and Clinical Trials | Additional Patient Support

Kidney cancer ranks among the 10 most common cancers in both men and women. It is often a disease that becomes more prevalent in individuals over 60, according to the American Cancer Society.

The experienced specialists at NorthShore Kellogg Cancer Center combine the most advanced scientific knowledge and technology with a comprehensive and compassionate approach to care. They create a program of personalized medicine and patient-centered care for each individual diagnosed with kidney cancer.

Kellogg's medical oncologists have extensive experience addressing the needs of patients with kidney cancer, particularly those with advanced stages of the disease. Research has shown that significant experience is more likely to result in better outcomes for patients. Physicians at the Kellogg Cancer Center collaborate with colleagues at the John and Carol Walter Center for Urological Health when appropriate.

Kidney Cancer Screening and Diagnosis

In diagnosing kidney cancer, physicians may require a variety of tests, including blood and urine tests. Kidney cancer can often be diagnosed based on imaging tests, which may include CT and MRI scans, and ultrasound. These tests also may be used to find out if the cancer has spread or to confirm if a treatment is working.

In some cases, it is necessary to remove a tissue sample of a kidney tumor through a fine needle biopsy, which involves the insertion of a long, thin needle into the kidney. The tissue is sent to experts in NorthShore’s pathology lab. This onsite resource ensures that a majority of tests and novel diagnostics are completed in house, providing our physicians with swift results to determine the severity (stage) of the cancer. This feature allows our specialists to begin treatment as early as possible. 

Personalized Kidney Cancer Treatment

Multimodal strategies combining the latest in chemotherapy, radiation therapy and surgery are often used to treat patients with both early and advanced kidney cancer. Advances in minimally invasive, robotic and image-guided ablative surgery give our patients more kidney cancer treatment options, including partial nephrectomy, total nephrectomy and ablative therapy. These techniques allow for excellent cancer control and result in less pain, blood loss and a more rapid return to normal activities. In most cases, the kidney can be preserved after treatment, which helps protect long-term kidney function.

Patients with advanced kidney cancer are treated with targeted therapy or immunotherapy. Among the most promising developments in cancer treatment in recent years is immunotherapy. Unlike chemotherapy, which attacks cancer cells, immunotherapy targets the patient’s immune system, spurring the body’s own immune function to unleash an attack on the disease. NorthShore has been an early adopter of immunotherapy, offering progressive treatment options to our patients and supporting ongoing clinical trials and research to further advance this revolutionary field.

ur multidisciplinary team meets regularly in a multidisciplinary conference to discuss each patient’s case in detail and to design a personalized treatment plan. For kidney cancer, your team may include your medical oncologisturological surgical oncologist (a board-certified urologist specially trained to surgically treat urological cancers), radiation oncologist, geneticist, pathologist, nutritionist, pharmacist, interventional radiologist, social worker and researchers, all focused on you. This "meeting of the minds" provides critical input, resulting in an individualized care plan outlining the best course of action for your care.

Research and Clinical Trials

Our vital research enterprise gives Kellogg Cancer Center patients access to the latest drugs and treatment options, as well as a wide array of clinical trials, both at NorthShore and through the University of Chicago, where more than 800 of our attending physicians hold academic appointments.

Several of our clinical trials are using new chemotherapy and immunotherapy drugs that have greatly improved treatment for patients with advanced stages of kidney disease.

Conservative management of incidentally detected small kidney masses is the focus of a clinical study at NorthShore. With improved imaging technology, we are now discovering small kidney tumors, many of which are not aggressive, that went previously undetected. The study seeks to determine the optimal strategy to manage these small kidney tumors with the goal of, whenever safely possible, sparing patients unnecessary treatment.

Additional Patient Support

Kellogg Cancer Center’s unique services and resources assist patients and family members with a variety of challenges they may face from diagnosis, treatment and beyond. A wide array of support services are available to patients that include our integrative medicine services, financial advocacy and survivorship, to name a few.

For More Information

For more information or to schedule an appointment with one of our specialists, please call 847.570.2112.