Nephrectomy is the removal of a kidney. Nephrectomy can be cytoreductive, partial, or radical, depending on your situation.

Cytoreductive nephrectomy is recommended for kidney cancer patients whose cancer has spread to other tissue (metastatic). The goal of cytoreductive surgery is to remove as many cancer cells as possible. To do this, it may be necessary to remove surrounding organs as well. The spleen or the pancreas or parts of the intestines or the liver might be affected.

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Partial nephrectomy is used to treat kidney cancer that has not spread to other tissue. It is recommended whenever possible. The aim is to remove the part of the kidney with abnormally growing cells (tumour) but to leave as much as possible of the healthy kidney.

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Radical nephrectomy is removal of the whole kidney and the surrounding fatty tissue. It is done when it is not possible to leave a functioning kidney behind after a partial nephrectomy. It is generally recommended for kidney cancers that have not yet spread but that have grown into surrounding tissue. It is also used for stage I tumours when partial nephrectomy is not an option. Most people can live with only one functioning kidney without major complications.

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