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Cancer Health Center

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Renal Cell Cancer Treatment (PDQ®): Treatment - Health Professional Information [NCI] - Stage I Renal Cell Cancer

Stage I renal cell cancer is defined by the American Joint Committee on Cancer's TNM classification system:

  • T1, N0, M0

Surgical resection is the accepted, often curative, therapy for stage I renal cell cancer. Resection may be simple or radical. The latter operation includes removal of the kidney, adrenal gland, perirenal fat, and Gerota fascia, with or without a regional lymph node dissection. Some, but not all, surgeons believe the radical operation yields superior results. In patients who are not candidates for surgery, external-beam radiation therapy (EBRT) or arterial embolization can provide palliation. In patients with bilateral stage I neoplasms (concurrent or subsequent), bilateral partial nephrectomy or unilateral partial nephrectomy with contralateral radical nephrectomy, when technically feasible, may be a preferred alternative to bilateral nephrectomy with dialysis or transplantation.[2] Increasing evidence suggests that a partial nephrectomy is curative in selected cases. A pathologist should examine the gross specimen as well as the frozen section from the parenchymal margin of excision.[3]

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Standard treatment options:

  1. Radical nephrectomy.[4]
  2. Simple nephrectomy.[4]
  3. Partial nephrectomy (selected patients).[2,4]
  4. EBRT (palliative).[4]
  5. Arterial embolization (palliative).[4,5]
  6. Clinical trials.

Current Clinical Trials

Check for U.S. clinical trials from NCI's list of cancer clinical trials that are now accepting patients with stage I renal cell cancer. The list of clinical trials can be further narrowed by location, drug, intervention, and other criteria.

General information about clinical trials is also available from the NCI Web site.


  1. Kidney. In: Edge SB, Byrd DR, Compton CC, et al., eds.: AJCC Cancer Staging Manual. 7th ed. New York, NY: Springer, 2010, pp 479-89.
  2. Novick AC, Streem S, Montie JE, et al.: Conservative surgery for renal cell carcinoma: a single-center experience with 100 patients. J Urol 141 (4): 835-9, 1989.
  3. Thrasher JB, Robertson JE, Paulson DF: Expanding indications for conservative renal surgery in renal cell carcinoma. Urology 43 (2): 160-8, 1994.
  4. deKernion JB, Berry D: The diagnosis and treatment of renal cell carcinoma. Cancer 45 (7 Suppl): 1947-56, 1980.
  5. Swanson DA, Wallace S, Johnson DE: The role of embolization and nephrectomy in the treatment of metastatic renal carcinoma. Urol Clin North Am 7 (3): 719-30, 1980.

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Public Information from the National Cancer Institute

    Last Updated: May 28, 2015
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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