Questions that you may want to discuss with your surgeon, cancer specialist (oncologist) or other members of your health care team following your nephrectomy include:

  • Were you able to remove all of the cancerous or diseased tissue?
  • How much of the kidney was removed?
  • Will I need to have any treatments if cancer has spread to other organs?
  • How often will my kidney function need to be monitored?

Monitoring kidney function

Most people can function well with only one kidney or with one whole kidney and part of the second. You'll likely have annual checkups to monitor the following factors related to kidney function.

  • Blood pressure. You'll need careful monitoring of your blood pressure because decreased kidney function can increase blood pressure — and high blood pressure can, in turn, damage your kidney.
  • Protein urine levels. High protein urine levels (proteinuria) may indicate kidney damage and poor kidney function.
  • Waste filtration. Glomerular filtration rate is a measure of how efficiently your kidney filters waste. The test is usually performed with a sample of blood. A reduced filtration rate indicates decreased kidney function.

Taking care of your remaining kidney

You'll need to take care of your remaining kidney or partial kidney. Follow these guidelines to help maintain good kidney function:

  • If your doctor prescribes medication to lower your blood pressure, take it as directed.
  • Eat a healthy diet that includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat foods.
  • Limit your daily salt intake. Pay particular attention to how much salt (sodium) is in packaged foods.
  • Avoid high-protein foods, which can overwork your kidney.
  • If you drink alcohol or caffeinated beverages, do so in moderation. Your doctor may recommend eliminating alcohol or caffeine from your diet.
  • Exercise regularly.
May 23, 2012