Urologic oncologist Bradley Leibovich, M.D., answers the most frequently asked questions about kidney cancer.

I'm Dr. Brad Leibovich, a urologic oncologist at Mayo Clinic, and I'm here to answer some questions patients may have about kidney cancer.

Patients diagnosed with kidney cancer often want to know what could they have done differently to prevent this from happening in the first place. In most cases, kidney cancer is completely unrelated to how you've lived your life. And there's really nothing you could have done differently to have prevented this.

Prognosis for kidney cancer depends upon the stage at which the kidney cancer is discovered. For patients with early stage disease, the prognosis is excellent and the expectation is typically that somebody will be cured of their kidney cancer. For later stage disease, thankfully, we have many new treatments. And even if it's not possible to cure a patient, the expectation is we will significantly extend their life.

Patients that have been diagnosed with kidney cancer often want to know if it's necessary to remove the entire kidney. In some cases, the kidney can be preserved and only the tumor needs to be removed. In other cases, it's necessary to remove the entire kidney. Thankfully, most patients have a second kidney and have good enough kidney function with just one kidney, that this is not a problem.

Since most patients have relatively normal kidney function after having a kidney removed, in the majority of circumstances, you do not have to change your lifestyle. Most important is that you have a healthy lifestyle overall. Get good sleep, regular exercise, and have a healthy balanced diet. If you do need to change something about your lifestyle, your doctor will tell you.

Many patients want to know if they need to alter their diet after treatment for kidney cancer. In the majority of circumstances, people have normal enough kidney function that no special diet is required, and people can eat and drink however they did previously.

In my opinion, being the best partner to your medical team means learning as much as you can about your diagnosis and about your options. This will empower you to make the best decisions that are right for you. Never hesitate to ask your medical team any questions or inform them of any concerns you may have. Being informed makes all the difference. Thank you for your time. We wish you well.

Feb. 25, 2022