Kidney Cancer

We are pioneers in minimally invasive approaches for kidney cancer, including robotic surgery and advanced kidney-sparing techniques.

Our goal is to treat your kidney cancer and preserve your kidney function as much as possible.

What is Kidney Cancer?

The kidneys are two bean-shaped organs about the size of a fist, located on each side of the spine behind the abdominal organs. Kidney cancer occurs when cells of one or both kidneys grow too quickly, become cancerous and form tumors. Renal cell carcinoma is the most common type of kidney cancer in adults.

When to See a Kidney Cancer Specialist

In its early stages, kidney cancer does not usually cause symptoms. Over time, symptoms can develop, including:

  • Back or side pain that does not go away
  • Blood in your urine
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Tiredness
  • Fever

Contact a urologist if you have any persistent signs that worry you.

Diagnosing Kidney Cancer

As kidney cancer does not always show symptoms, testing is required to confirm the diagnosis. We use the most advanced imaging as well as other tests to diagnose and determine the stage of kidney cancer include:

  • Advanced imaging: Sestamibi single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT), as well as subtraction MRI, which enhances the differences between images with and without contrast to better detect and diagnose kidney cancer
  • Other imaging tests: x-ray, CT, ultrasound and MRI are used to identify a kidney tumor or abnormality
  • Biopsy: a sample of kidney tissue is removed to be reviewed under a microscope for cancer or precancerous cells
  • Blood and urine tests: testing your blood and urine can help determine cancer and non-cancerous reasons for your symptoms

Kidney Cancer Surgery

Our urologists are recognized worldwide as leaders in kidney cancer surgery. Our goal is to safely remove your tumor without removing your kidney, whenever possible. Based on the size and location of your tumor and your overall health, we may recommend either: 

  • Partial Kidney Removal (Partial Nephrectomy): removing only part of the kidney, the preferred approach for tumors up to or occasionally larger than 7 cm
  • Total Kidney Removal (Radical Nephrectomy): removing the entire kidney, may include removing surrounding fat, lymph nodes and the adrenal gland

More than 80 percent of our patients have a partial kidney removal, which saves your kidney function and does not expose you to the risks associated with having only one kidney. 

The majority of our kidney cancer surgeries are robotic assisted/minimally invasive. Surgery is performed through very small incisions using surgical instruments and a sophisticated 3D camera. 

More About Our Robotic Urology Surgery 

We specialize in surgery for large, complex or advanced tumors affecting nearby organs that cannot be performed using robotic or minimally invasive approaches. All of our surgeons are trained in advanced open surgical techniques. When needed, we work side by side with vascular, cardiothoracic and general surgeons. 

Taking a minimally invasive approach through the back or side of the body, small kidney tumors are frozen and then destroyed.

Instead of surgery, you and your doctor may opt for active surveillance. This may be recommended if the tumor is noncancerous or slow growing. We take into consideration the size and type of tumor as well your age and overall health. We closely monitor you and perform advanced imaging to detect any cancer progression. 

See How We’ve Made Robotic Kidney Surgery Even Better

  • Single-Port: Hackensack University Medical Center is the first hospital in New Jersey to perform single-port robotic surgery, which means only one small abdominal incision, improved surgical outcomes and a quicker recovery.  
  • 3D Modeling with IRIS™: We are the first of two centers in the U.S. to use IRIS™ to create a 3D digital model of your kidney. This unparalleled, detailed view allows us to perform complex surgeries to remove your tumor and preserve your kidney. Learn how 3D Modeling Helps Preserve Your Kidney
  • Real-time Advanced Imaging: Our robotic systems use near-infrared fluorescent imaging and state-of-the-art “drop-in” ultrasound technology to help surgeons remove the entire cancer while minimizing damage to the healthy kidney.

Additional Treatments

Urologists work closely with the medical and radiation oncology experts from John Theurer Cancer Center to develop a treatment plan specifically for your kidney cancer. We provide our patients with access to the latest kidney cancer clinical trials. Depending on your type, size and location of tumor, your kidney cancer treatment plan may include:

  • Targeted drug therapy: medication to shrink or slow the growth of kidney cancer
  • Immunotherapy: medication to help your immune system fight cancer
  • Radiation therapy: palliative treatment to control symptoms, pain and bleeding

Our Research and Clinical Trials 

A hallmark of the care we provide is access to a wide range of clinical trials evaluating exciting new treatments, including studies not available elsewhere. 

We have a particularly strong program committed to Phase I clinical trials, the earliest phase of assessment of a new therapy in patients. For urologic cancers, we are evaluating particularly novel biological agents as well as immunotherapy options that are changing the field. This offers our patients an opportunity to participate in a clinical trial, bringing the options of tomorrow today. Learn more about clinical trials for urologic cancers.

Why Choose Hackensack Meridian Health for Urology Care


Hackensack University Medical Center has been ranked the #1 Urology Department in New Jersey for eight years in a row by U.S. News & World Report and have the only urology department in New Jersey that is nationally ranked.

Awards & Accreditations | Urology Year in Review


Our urologists present their clinical research at national conferences and have published over a dozen original studies in peer reviewed journals in a variety of subspecialties. 


Patient Experience

We collaborate with physicians throughout our world class health network and partner with Magnet® recognized nurses to provide patients with the most advanced and compassionate care. 

Why Choose John Theurer Cancer Center for Kidney Cancer Treatment


The Kidney Cancer Program at Hackensack University Medical Center’s Department of Urology has earned the Gold Seal of Approval® by The Joint Commission. Hackensack University Medical Center has been ranked the #1 Urology Department in New Jersey for six years in a row by U.S. News & World Report and is the only urology department in New Jersey that is nationally ranked Awards & Accreditations | 2020 in Review

Robotic Surgery Experience:

Our surgeons were among the first in the tri-state area to perform minimally invasive robotic bladder removal surgery. Today we continue to perform the highest volume.

Recognized Leaders:
Urologists from around the country come to John Theurer Cancer Center for training in the latest robotic techniques used to treat kidney cancer. Our surgeons have published and presented more than 50 papers on the management of kidney cancer, with some of the best outcomes worldwide.

Record of Success*
5 years - 1,351 kidney cancer surgeries
98% advanced robotic minimally invasive surgery
75% of all kidney cancers treated with partial nephrectomy
24% are performed using the single port robot

Quality Metrics for 2021:
Average length of stay = 2 days
0% mortality rate
2.73% readmission rate
3.1% transfusion rate

In the past four years we have completed:
1,013 partial nephrectomies
211 radical nephrectomies
126 nephroureterctomies
25% of patients travel >30 miles for care

*Data represents care provided at Hackensack University Medical Center

Team Approach

Our radiation oncology team includes radiation oncologists, physicists, therapists, nurses and support staff, and our medical oncology team offers the most advanced chemotherapy, hormone and vaccine therapy to target your specific type of prostate cancer.

Our Doctors

Our award winning team of renowned surgeons, physicians, researchers and other health care specialists are able to provide you with exceptional urological expertise, advancements and cutting-edge technology to develop a highly- personalized plan for each and every one of our patients.