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Kidney & Adrenal Gland Cancer

Kidney and adrenal gland cancer both take place in and around the kidneys. Kidney cancer, specifically, deals with cells that begin to grow out of control in the kidney. Your kidneys are attached to the upper back wall of your abdomen and help remove excess water, salt and waste from your blood. There are several types of kidney cancer, but the most common is Renal Cell Carcinoma. This form of kidney cancer makes up roughly 90% of all cases. It can be classified as either Clear Cell Renal Cell Carcinoma (the most common form of renal cell carcinoma) or Non-clear Cell Renal Cell Carcinoma.

The adrenal gland sits on top the kidney and is surrounded by fat and thin layer known as Gerota’s fascia. It is made up of two parts, the outer cortex and the inner medulla. The cortex helps produce hormones and is where most adrenal tumors develop. Whereas, the medulla helps produce hormones for the nervous system. There are two types of adrenal cortex tumors, Adenomas (benign) and Carcinomas (malignant). Similar to the cortex, the medulla has two common types of cancers, the pheochromocytomas (which are typically benign) and neuroblastomas.

At Laurel Cancer Care, we understand how hard it can be to choose the perfect team for the treatment of kidney or adrenal cancer. It’s important to have the very latest treatment options with highly trained professionals in a comfortable and caring setting, close to your home. You deserve exceptional and compassionate care and Laurel Cancer Care will be an integral part of your journey to survivorship.

Possible side effects of kidney and adrenal gland radiation therapy:

  • Skin changes in areas getting radiation, ranging from redness to blistering and peeling
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Appetite loss
  • Abdominal cramping
  • Diarrhea
  • Blood in stool and/or urine
  • Tiredness (fatigue)
  • Low blood counts, which can lead to fatigue, easy bruising or bleeding, or increased risk of infection

How do we treat Kidney and Adrenal cancers?

Radiation is sometimes used to treat kidney cancer if a person is not healthy enough to have surgery or has only one kidney. Sometimes other treatments will be tried first instead. For people with kidney cancer, radiation therapy is more often used to palliate, or ease, cancer symptoms such as pain, bleeding, or problems caused by cancer spread (especially to the bones or brain). Treatments are scheduled Monday through Friday over the course of several weeks. In some cases, we can delivery higher doses of radiation in fewer treatments.

Your treatment is custom-tailored and unique to your diagnosis, tumor size, location and involvement. Your radiation oncologist (a doctor who specializes in treating cancer with radiation) will review all available treatment options and recommend a personalized plan for you based on national guidelines, which guide all cancer treatments. Radiation therapy is used either alone or in combination with other treatments such as chemotherapy and surgery.

Radiation can be delivered either from outside the body with a machine called a linear accelerator (external beam radiation) or from a radiation source implanted permanently or temporarily in the body (brachytherapy).

Benefits of Radiation Therapy:

  • Pain Free Treatment Delivery
  • Non-Invasive
  • Custom Tailored Treatment Plan
  • Little to No Side Effects
  • Immediate Return to Daily Activities
  • Minimal Radiation Exposure to Adjacent Healthy Tissue

What to Expect


Initial Scans

To create a customized treatment plan, you will have a CT or PET/CT scan to identify the exact location of your cancer.

Pre-Treatment Preparation

Ink marks or small tattoo-like dots will be placed on your skin in the area of the tumor to ensure the radiation is delivered to the tumor. The markings will be visible on your skin, but only in the area of the tumor and are permanent. They are designed to fade and will begin to disappear towards the end of your radiation treatments. Occasionally, the markings will have to be reapplied to your skin during treatment. It is very important that you do not scrub the markings during your bathing/showering. Your radiation therapist will discuss with you how to care for your skin during your treatments, including protecting the markings.

Radiation Treatment Scheduling

Radiation treatments happen Monday through Friday for a number of weeks, usually for 5-8 weeks. Weekend breaks, on Saturday and Sunday, allow your normal cells to recover and assist your healing process.

Treatment Room

Our radiation therapists will bring you from the waiting room, into the treatment room with the linear accelerator (radiation machine). The therapist will make you comfortable in the room and assist you in getting positioned on the treatment table.

Delivery Machine Setup

Two therapists will align the laser to the target on your skin, indicated by the “tattoo-like” markings. Alignment takes only a couple of minutes. The therapists will then leave the room to deliver and monitor your treatment.

Delivery of Radiation Therapy

During the treatment the machine will move over your body. You won’t feel anything. It’s much like having an x-ray. Sometimes the specific area of skin receiving treatment, can get tender and sunburned, your healthcare team will want to know if you are experiencing any burning or discomfort during your treatment. Your healthcare team will guide you with proper care of your skin. Typically the treatment takes about 10-15 minutes. The most common side effect of radiation therapy is fatigue – it is very important to get plenty of rest and adequate nutrition.

Post Treatment Followup

Generally, you will see your doctor weekly. However, we are always available if you need us.

Talk To A Team Member Today

We know you have a choice about where you get your cancer care but we hope you’ll choose us. Here are the top reasons why we believe Laurel Cancer Care is the best choice:

  • We use the most advanced therapies available.
  • Our doctor is specially trained and board certified. Meet Dr. L. Cameron Pimperl!
  • Our medical, technical and support staff are experts at what they do. Meet the team!
  • Our treatment plans follow national guidelines and are the same protocols as those used by the top academic cancer centers.
  • We work as a one team that is closely coordinated, with one focus.
  • We want everyone to feel like family.
  • We keep close tabs on your physical, mental and emotional well-being because we care about quality of life.
  • You get to stay close to home, surrounded by the love and support of your family and friends.