National Kidney Month to Focus on Saving Kidney Function

Welcome to National Kidney Month in Canada.
This year, Kidney Cancer Canada is focusing on the (Really) Radical Nephrectomy and options that can save kidney cancer patients from losing valuable kidney function. See our Press Release below. More information about our National Kidney Month campaign is available on our website. Media interviews with patients, surgeons, and KCC will be added to our website throughout the month at

– This March, during National Kidney Month, Kidney Cancer Canada calls for more organ-sparing treatments that protect patients’ overall kidney function –

TORONTO, March 1 /CNW/ – As National Kidney Month kicks off this March, Kidney Cancer Canada is reminding Canadians that when it comes to kidney cancer, less is often more and it’s time to take advantage of available techniques that can save vital kidney function more often.

Due to advances in imaging, approximately half of all kidney tumours are now being caught at an early stage – or less than 7 cm.1 According to the Canadian Kidney Cancer Consensus Guidelines, many of these tumours no longer need to be treated by removing the full kidney (radical nephrectomy) and organ-sparing treatments can often save a good portion of a patient’s kidney and kidney function.

Yet studies suggest that 80 per cent of the time the full kidney is removed.2

“Too many Canadians diagnosed with kidney cancer will lose an entire kidney when they may not have to,” says Dr. Ronald Moore, Professor of Surgery and Oncology in Edmonton, Alberta. “Years ago it was similar in breast cancer and radical mastectomies were common. But due to research and treatment advances now more patients undergo breast-conserving surgery.  We need to embrace a similar approach for kidney cancer and start saving more kidneys, which in turn will save more lives.”

Removing the full kidney can leave the patient’s overall kidney function compromised for later in life, which is a significant challenge if the cancer returns.  In fact, research shows up to one in 10 patients will develop kidney cancer again in their other kidney.  If the first one has been removed already, this means the patient’s remaining kidney function will be compromised further- and it’s even more important if the kidney cancer returns in an advanced form, because patients will need maximum kidney function to tolerate cancer-fighting treatments.

“When treating the cancer, there is no significant benefit between a radical or partial nephrectomy and while removing the cancer is important, the decision shouldn’t be made in isolation. Future kidney function should be part of the overall treatment plan that the physician and patient consider together,” says Joan Basiuk, registered nurse and Director, Medical Relations for Kidney Cancer Canada

Kidney Cancer Canada also wants patients to know that developing renal disease (a disease causing chronic kidney damage and a decreased level of kidney function) can be a reality when their entire kidney is removed by surgery.  Research shows in less than three years after surgery, one in 10 kidney cancer patients develop kidney disease and the risk is nearly double for patients who had their full kidney removed, compared to when only part of the original kidney is removed. 3

For kidney cancer patients with smaller tumours in the kidney, a full radical nephrectomy can also put them at higher risk of death from cardiac issues than from the kidney cancer itself, because of the affected kidney function.4

“When I was diagnosed with kidney cancer, I was immediately scheduled for a radical nephrectomy. My family and friends thought I should have the whole kidney removed as quickly as possible because they thought that was safer.  But I started to do my own research, and looked at the long-term realities for kidney cancer patients living with only one kidney. I decided a partial nephrectomy was the right option for me,” says Jill Custeau-Maida, a kidney cancer survivor in Ancaster, Ontario.

The most recent Kidney Cancer Consensus Guidelines for treatment were published in 2009 in the Canadian Urological Association Journal, yet have not been widely adopted across the country.  Kidney sparing approaches include removing the part of the kidney containing the tumour surgically (partial nephrectomy), or tumour ablation techniques including freezing (cryotherapy) and heating (radiofrequency ablation) or monitoring the tumour (active surveillance).

“When it comes to kidney cancer, it’s not a one-size-fits-all approach to treatment.  If you are diagnosed, make sure you educate yourself and ask your physician the right questions about what treatment option is right for you,” says Deb Maskens, chair, Kidney Cancer Canada and kidney cancer patient.

Visit to find out more about kidney cancer and to see a list of questions you can ask your physician about treatment options.

About Kidney Cancer in Canada

Kidney cancer is formed in the nephrons – the tiny tubes of the kidney that filter blood and produce urine.  Renal cell carcinoma (RCC) is the most common form of kidney cancer in adults, representing about 85 per cent of all kidney cancer.5 In early stage kidney cancer, the tumour is limited to the kidney. The disease is considered advanced when the cancer has metastasized, or spread, beyond the primary cancer site.  Unlike most other cancers, advanced kidney cancer does not respond to conventional therapies, such as chemotherapy or radiation, which makes the need for newer targeted treatments that much more important.

In 2010, it was estimated approximately 4,800 Canadians would be diagnosed with kidney cancer and 1,650 would die from the disease.6

Kidney Cancer Canada

Kidney Cancer Canada is the first Canadian-based, patient-led registered charity established to improve the quality of life for patients and their families living with kidney cancer. Kidney Cancer Canada advocates for access to new treatments, provides support and information to patients, and works to increase awareness of kidney cancer as a significant health issue.

For more information please visit:


1Chen DYT et al. Evaluation and Management of the Renal Mass. Med Clin N Am 95 (2011) 179-189

2Miler DC, et al. J Urol 2006; 175:853-857.

3Klarenback, S et al. Adverse Renal Outcomes in subjects Undergoing Nephrectomy for Renal Tumors: A Population-Based Analysis. European Urology 59 (2011) 33 – 339.

4Russo, Deleterious Renal Functional Outcomes After Radical Nephrectomy, EAJ, 59, 2011

5BC Cancer Agency.Types of Cancer and Sequole – Kidney. Available at: (Revised January 1999; Accessed January 23, 2007).

6 Canadian Cancer Statistics, 2010, Canadian Cancer Society, Page 20.

For further information:

Jilda Lazer: 416-969-2737 or


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