If you’ve been diagnosed with kidney cancer or a new kidney tumor, we recommend considering a second opinion before selecting a course of treatment. Getting a second opinion is a valuable way to verify facts, like the degree of suspicion that the tumor is cancerous, the clinical stage of the cancer, and the suitability of the tumor for surgery that spares as much normal kidney as possible. These facts are important to your decisions about your treatment. A second opinion may give you access to new treatments, new surgical techniques, or clinical trials that are available.
If you have received a kidney cancer diagnosis, or you have been told that you have a kidney tumor, kidney mass, renal tumor, renal mass, or complex renal cyst, a second opinion makes sense for the following reasons:
- Some tumors are small and have a considerable chance of being benign. A treatment option that we consider more often these days is known as active surveillance, where these small kidney tumors are observed. We usually prescribe repeated imaging studies to evaluate for growth of the tumors.
- The decision-making for kidney cancer that has spread or metastasized can be complex. Patients are often trying to decide between having surgery to remove the kidney with the main tumor or immediately starting medications to treat cancer cells throughout the body. Many patients with metastatic kidney cancer are candidates for clinical trials. A second opinion would help you gather more information to help make this complex decision.
- Small kidney tumors can usually be treated by removing the tumor and sparing the normal kidney around the tumor. This surgery is called a partial nephrectomy. There are studies that suggest that not enough patients with small kidney tumors get this important surgery.
- There are state-of-the-art options available for men and women with kidney cancer and kidney tumors. Some of these options include clinical trials of new medications for metastatic kidney cancer or kidney cancer at high risk of metastasizing, robotic surgery to speed your recovery, and newer therapies to freeze small tumors.
- Changing treatment regimens is not always easy or possible. Once you start a course of treatment, it’s sometimes hard to change to something else.
Find a urologic oncologist that you trust and a course of treatment that you are comfortable with. If you weren’t diagnosed at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (SCCA), consider making an appointment with one of our many specialists who are all University of Washington Medicine faculty members. SCCA is the only National Cancer Institute-designated cancer center in the state of Washington and one of only 15 in the Western United States.
If you received your diagnosis at SCCA, don’t be afraid to ask your doctor about getting a second opinion. They’ll be more than happy to provide you with a list of recommended doctors.