Renal Cell Carcinoma

A Reappraisal

Chintan Patel, MD; Asma Ahmed, CUNP; Pamela Ellsworth, MD


Urol Nurs. 2012;32(4):182-190. 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction


Surgical treatment of renal cell carcinoma is the gold standard. Nephron-sparing surgery, laparoscopic and robotic surgery, and minimally invasive procedures have decreased the morbidity of treatment. Although traditionally resistant to chemotherapy and radiation therapy, advances have been made with immunotherapies. Physicians and nurses caring for patients with renal cell carcinoma should be aware of changes in management and newer therapies for treatment of advanced disease.


Renal cell carcinoma (RCC) accounts for approximately 3% of adult malignancies and close to 90% of all renal neoplasms (Jemal, Siegel, Xu, & Ward, 2010). Renal cell carcinomas, by definition, are tumors that originate in the renal cortex. These tumors are often asymptomatic, have diverse clinical manifestations, and can be associated with hereditary syndromes. Surgery is the treatment of choice for localized RCC. In recent years, there has been a shift from radical nephrectomy toward more nephron-sparing approaches. RCC still remains a predominantly surgical disease because RCCs are frequently characterized as tumors that are resistant to chemotherapy and radiation. However, advances in the treatment of metastatic RCC have evolved, primarily with biologic response modifiers.


  1. Explain the likely causes for the rise in incidence of renal cell carcinoma in the United States.

  2. Describe the classification, grading, and staging systems of renal cell carcinoma.

  3. Discuss treatment modalities for patients with renal cell carcinoma.


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