Surgery is often the first treatment a child has for a kidney tumor. Our general and thoracic surgery team has performed hundreds of surgeries to remove kidney tumors from children.
Usually, kidney tumors only affect 1 kidney. The surgeon usually removes:
- The kidney with the tumor
- The tube from the kidney to the bladder (ureter)
- The fat around the kidney
- Lymph nodes near the kidney
It is important to remove these nodes to find out how far the cancer may have spread. Lymph vessels pick up a fluid called lymph from around the body, filter it through lymph nodes and return it to the bloodstream.
During surgery, doctors may check other areas for cancer, such as the liver and the other kidney. They may remove all tissue that appears to have cancer.
Sometimes, they also remove nearby structures like the adrenal gland (which sits on top of the kidney).
In some cases, doctors cannot remove the whole tumor. It may be too large, or the cancer cells may have spread to nearby tissue. Instead, doctors take a small sample of tumor cells for a biopsy to learn more about your child’s tumor. They may recommend chemotherapy to shrink the tumor before removing it.
In very rare cases when both kidneys are affected, a child may need a kidney transplant. Seattle Children’s is 1 of the top 5 kidney transplant centers in the United States.
Surgery is done at our hospital’s main campus in Seattle.
Learn more about surgery to treat tumors at Seattle Children’s.