Partial nephrectomy — also called kidney-sparing surgery or nephron-sparing surgery — is an effective treatment for people who have a single, small (7 centimeters or less), solid tumor and no other potentially complicating features, such as scarring or kidney disease.
Mayo Clinic studies suggest that removing just the portion of the kidney containing the tumor may eliminate cancer as effectively as removing the entire kidney, with no greater risk of recurrence. Hospital costs and lengths of stay are similar for both surgical procedures.
Equally important, a partial nephrectomy preserves some or most kidney function, which helps overall health. This is particularly critical for people with only one kidney who would otherwise require regular dialysis treatment or a kidney transplant after removal of the entire kidney (complete nephrectomy).
Evidence suggests that risks associated with heart-related complications increase as kidney function declines with age. So people who can keep the function of more than one kidney have a better outlook as they age.