Kidney cancer can develop from a variety of different cell types however the majority are derived from the renal cortex. Many kidney tumors today are discovered incidentally (i.e. during a radiology test performed for an unrelated reason). Other kidney tumors may present with symptoms including pain in the flank or abdomen, blood in the urine (hematuria), or an abdominal mass.
Tumors identified in the kidneys often require surgical excision to remove the cancer and prevent spread (metastases). Historically the most common treatment of kidney tumors of any size was total kidney removal (radical nephrectomy). The approach to the treatment of kidney tumors has shifted and today the majority of kidney cancers are treated by partial nephrectomy. Partial nephrectomy removes the tumor while preserving the remaining normal kidney tissue. There is growing evidence that when feasible this preservation of renal tissue helps to reduce the need for dialysis and the morbidity associated with renal insufficiency (such as the development of hypertension and cardiovascular disease).
The vast majority of kidney tumors can be treatment with partial nephrectomy through a robotic approach. Depending on the location of the tumor Dr. Berkman may elect a retroperitoneal access to the tumor, maintaining the surgical procedure outside the abdominal cavity. This further minimizes the morbidity of the surgery and insures that all tumors can be treated through a minimally invasive robotic approach. See Robotic Radical Nephrectomy and Robotic Partial Nephrectomy for more information.