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A doctor talks to a patient about open radical nephrectomy

An open radical nephrectomy can be used to treat renal cancer by removing an entire kidney that is affected by cancer. While this procedure is a common type of treatment for renal cancer that has not spread outside of its point of origin, it may also be beneficial in certain cases in which the cancer has begun to spread locally or to a limited number of external sites. Under these circumstances, the goal of the procedure, which is also known as a cytoreductive radical nephrectomy, is to remove as much of the cancer as possible. This can potentially increase the effectiveness of subsequent chemotherapy or radiation therapy, because there may be less cancer to address.

To perform an open radical nephrectomy, a surgeon will typically:

  • Create an incision in a patient’s side or abdomen
  • Thoroughly examine the affected kidney and surrounding tissue for evidence of cancer spread
  • Completely remove the cancerous kidney, surrounding lymph nodes, a small amount of fatty tissue, the adrenal gland located above the affected kidney and the upper end of the ureter (the tube through which urine passes from the kidney, where it is produced, to the bladder, where it is stored)

To potentially enhance a patient’s outcome and quality of life, the multispecialty team of renal cancer experts at Moffitt Cancer Center may recommend a comprehensive treatment plan that incorporates open radical nephrectomy surgery as well as other therapies, such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy, immunotherapy or molecularly targeted therapy. Through our highly acclaimed Genitourinary Oncology Program, we offer a full range of the latest treatment and supportive care services in a single location, and we do not require referrals.

Medically reviewed by Jad Chahoud, MD, Department of Genitourinary Oncology.

For further information about an open radical nephrectomy and other kidney cancer treatment options, call 1-888-663-3488 or complete a new patient registration form online.