Skip to Main Content

Kidney Cancer

The Prostate and Urologic Cancers Program at Yale Cancer Center offers a multidisciplinary, comprehensive approach to treating urologic malignancies. With a diagnosis of kidney cancer, you and your family can feel confident in the knowledge and world-renowned expertise with our urologic oncology team. Yale Urology and Yale Cancer Center are home to many top researchers in the area of kidney cancer, providing patients access to the most advanced drug and treatment therapies available in New England.

Innovative Treatments

Yale Urology surgeons are at the forefront of cancer research, driving the search for new treatments and cures and staying current on the most advanced and effective techniques. We continually integrate the latest in science-based medicine and innovative approaches into our practice to offer patients safer and more effective treatments.

Using the most advanced minimally invasive techniques, such as laparoscopic or robotic-assisted surgery, our surgeons can personalize their approach to treating kidney cancer. Minimally invasive and robotic-assisted surgeries performed by our surgeons include laparoscopic partial nephrectomy and laparoscopic full nephrectomy. Additionally, we collaborate with our interventional radiology colleagues to perform image-guided, ablative techniques that involve needle placement into the tumor with tumor destruction by either freezing (cryoablation) or heating (radiofrequency).

Multidisciplinary Kidney Cancer Care

Our patients benefit from a Tumor Board focused entirely on Kidney Cancer in which a group of surgeons, medical oncologists, pathologists and radiologists meet to collaborate and give personalized attention to challenging cases. This level of collaboration allows an integrated treatment approach to patients and provides the highest level of care. Our kidney surgeons have experience with targeted systemic therapy administration and multidisciplinary care, allowing an excellent relationship with our medical oncology team including participation with integrated surgical/systemic therapy clinical trials.

Molecular Diagnostics Program

Working with various investigators of Yale’s Department of Pathology involved in Molecular Diagnostics, Molecular Cytogenetics, and Anatomic Pathology, we provide detailed analysis of tumor samples to aid in diagnostics of challenging tumor types and perhaps allow personalized prognostication. Our program has become a referral center for outside centers to send complicated kidney cancer slides for expert opinion. We have a weekly Precision Tumor Board that works closely with the Yale Center for Genomic Assessment for detailed tumor characterization to investigate whether unusual cases would have any targets that we could include in novel therapeutic trials.

Hereditary Kidney Cancer Program

About 5-8% of kidney cancer is believed to have a genetic or hereditary component. There are now one dozen syndromes associated with a hereditary predisposition to kidney cancer. Yale’s Hereditary Kidney Cancer Program works in conjunction with the Yale Genetic Counseling Program to investigate potential genetic causes of an individual’s kidney cancer. It is geared to patients with unique forms of kidney cancer, early kidney cancer onset (<age 45), bilateral or multifocal tumors, strong family history, and associated tumor types. This multidisciplinary program offers a novel method of testing multiple kidney cancer genes at once. Patients with early onset kidney cancer not believed to have a hereditary component also may have a strong genetic cause of their cancer and our program offers diagnostic testing (Immunohistochemistry, FISH and cytogenetics) to assist in the characterizing of these tumors.

Learn more about the Hereditary Kidney Cancer Program.

About Kidney Cancer

Kidney cancer is a malignancy of the kidneys. The main function of our kidneys is to produce urine, but by adjusting the composition of the urine, they also regulate electrolytes, bodily fluids, the body’s acid-base balance, and they eliminate waste products produced by the body.

The most common type of kidney cancer, making up about 90 percent of cases, is renal cell carcinoma (RCC). RCC is the most common type of kidney cancer. This type of cancer originates in the lining of the kidney tubules and generally grows as a single mass. Occasionally, more than one tumor may grow in a kidney or tumors may grow in both kidneys. There are five subtypes of RCC, which are classified according to their cellular shape: clear cell, papillary, chromophobe, collecting duct, and “unclassified.”

The remaining 10 percent of kidney tumors are made up of less common types, which include transitional cell carcinomas, Wilms’ tumors, and renal sarcomas.