The mainstay of treatment for localized kidney cancers is surgical removal and in the vast majority of cases this should involve minimally invasive approaches i.e key hole or laparoscopic surgery or now robotic assisted surgery using the Da Vinci Robot System, rather than open surgery that can result in larger, painful and occasionally disfiguring wounds.
Recent times have seen an increase in small (less than 4cm) incidentally discovered tumours thanks to the greater number of scans (ultrasound or CT) performed for other reasons. The aim of surgery should be to remove the tumour with minimum impact upon overall kidney function. This is known as nephron sparing surgery, the nephron being the functioning unit of the kidney. Most often this means a partial nephrectomy (excision of only the tumour mass) although there are other ablative options to kill the tumour e.g cryoablation or freezing of the tumour.